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Lowering your carb intake can be difficult, especially when you think wine is off the table. Thankfully, you can still enjoy wine without overdoing it on the carbs - it’s all about choosing the right type of wine.
At ThinK Wine, we offer low carb wines that are perfect if you’re trying to lower your carb intake, you want to be healthier, or you’re on the keto diet.
Keep reading to learn more about low carb wine, why there are carbs in wine and the best low carb wine options.
The winemaking process involves fermenting naturally occurring sugars in grapes with yeast, which creates alcohol. Typically, any unfermented sugar will remain in the wine, which is called residual sugar - and the cause of carbs in wine.
Wines with a lower sugar content during production will have a lower amount of carbohydrates per glass.
Many vintners will avoid adding extra sugar and sweeteners when fermenting the wine, but commercial, mass-produced brands may add extra to speed up the fermentation process and to enhance the flavours. This is called chaptalization and is only legal in certain areas around the globe.
If you’re looking for a wine that isn’t full of carbs, then stay away from commercial wines you’ll find on offer in supermarkets - as chances are, it’s full of residual sugar.
Grapes have a high sugar content before they ferment into wine, and this sugar can still remain even after the fermentation process.
Little yeasts, e.g saccharomyces cerevisiae, will consume the grape sugar to produce alcohol - but on some occasions, the winemaker will stop the yeast from consuming this sugar.
Winemakers will do this to improve the flavour and make it a more likeable wine - the more residual sugar, the sweeter the wine.
Residual sugar is measured by grams of sugar per litre (g/l). For example, a wine with 45 g/l or more will be a sweet wine, and wine with less than that may be considered a dry wine.
The amount of residual sugar in wine will very rarely drop below 1 g/l, as not all sugar can be consumed by the yeast - there’s almost always going to be a small amount remaining.
A typical glass of red wine will contain around 85 calories - and if you end up drinking the bottle, you can be consuming upwards of 400 calories, which is 20% of your daily recommended calorie intake.
On the keto diet, it’s recommended you have no more than 50 carbs per day. A glass of wine can make up around 3 of those - and a full bottle can cost you 15 carbs.
A glass of wine on occasion is fine and most likely won’t affect your diet or health - but if you really want to stick to your low carb plan, then it’s best to either avoid wine or find a low carb alternative.
A glass of dry wine can contain around 0.5 grams of sugar, along with glycerol and other carbohydrate remains from the winemaking process, typically amounting to 2 grams of carbs.
Sweeter wines will have around 4 carbs per glass, and even sweeter dessert wines can be upwards of 5 grams.
Opting for low carb wines means you don’t have to worry too much about going over on your carb allowance, and you won’t have to sacrifice your morning bagel.
Watching your carb intake can be difficult, and wine labels can be confusing. With most foods, you’ll be able to read the label to find out the calorie, carb, and sugar content - but unfortunately, this isn’t usually the case with wine.
Instead of reading the label, it’s best to understand which wines to avoid, and which to look out for. Ice wine or Eiswein is made from pressing frozen grapes, which results in a sugary, sweet wine that’s high in carbs - so if you’re watching your carbs, avoid ice wine.
Although they’re a delicious pairing with desserts and sweet puddings, dessert wines are also a no-go if you’re being careful with carbs as they’re super sugary and will cost you 5 or more carbs per glass.
When you’re browsing the wine shelves in the supermarket, try to avoid anything labelled ‘late harvest’. Late harvest wine is made from grapes that have spent more time on the vine. The grapes have higher sugar levels, which results in a sweeter taste and more carbs
Another term you should look out for is ‘fortified wine’. This type of wine has a higher level of alcohol which lowers the amount of yeast during the fermentation process. This leaves more residual sugar, which means more carbs. Some examples of fortified wine include Port, Sherry, and Madeira.
You can still enjoy a glass of wine if you’re cutting down on your carb intake, whether it be for health reasons, weight loss, or just to set yourself a challenge.
Wine is typically a better choice than other alcohol - for example, a pint of beer will contain around 17 carbs, a single pina colada can contain around 43 grams, and a slimline gin and tonic can contain up to 7 grams of carbs. A typical glass of wine contains between 3 and 5 grams, making it a healthier, low-carb choice.
However, not all wine is created equal, and different types of wine will contain different amounts of carbs. Full-bodied reds tend to have more carbs than dry white wines and sparkling wines, but white wine is not everybody’s cup of tea. If you want a red wine, opt for a lighter-bodied red - for example, Pinot Noir or Syrah.
Dry wines tend to have a lower amount of carbohydrates, and sauvignon blancs are super dry and crisp, containing around 2 grams of carbs per serving.
Pinot Grigio is a favourite for many, so you’ll be surprised to know that it only contains around 3 grams per glass.
Likewise, sparkling wines like Champagne, Vegan Prosecco and Cava have a refreshingly low carb content, with around 2 grams per glass. Some terms to look out for include “brut”, “brut nature”, and “extra brut”.