Diet

Five surprising tips to finding the lowest calorie wines

Wine expert Krystenne MacMullin helps us navigate the wines that won't be too damaging on your waistline.

How to sip lower-calorie wines (Art by Krystenne MacMullin).

How to sip lower-calorie wines (Art by Krystenne MacMullin).

You know how to read a food label, but when it comes to the liquor store it’s tough to decipher what the healthier options are.

Read on for tips on how to tell which wines you should sip on more slowly and which ones are OK for a refill (or two).

1. Choose wines with less alcohol by volume.
Alcohol has almost double the calories per gram that sugar has so if you’re looking to cut calories, make sure you check the percentage on the label.

Processing alcohol is a priority for the body, which slows the metabolization of protein, fat and carbs and leads to a higher percentage of calories stored in the body as fat.

2. Opt for wines that are from cooler climates.
Grapes struggle to ripen in cool conditions. As a result, there’s less sugar produced meaning fewer calories and less alcohol.

3. Surprisingly, sweet wines often* have fewer calories than dry wines.
Higher residual sugar or sweetness typically means a lower percentage of alcohol and therefore fewer calories.

Watch out though, sweet wine that has a high percentage of alcohol will have more calories than any other option.

4. Choose white wine over red wine.
Generally, grapes grown for white wines are harvested earlier than grapes grown for red wines. This preserves the fruit flavours and refreshing acidity that decreases as sugar accumulates. The less time the grapes have to ripen and accumulate sugar, the lower the alcohol content and the fewer the calories.

5. Drink champagne with less added sugar.
Champagne is a cool region of France that produces grapes with naturally high acidity and low levels of sugar. In order to balance the acidity and make it easier to drink, a dosage of liquid sugar is added to the champagne.

When shopping or ordering in a restaurant, look for low or non-dosage champagnes. These will be labelled extra brut (less than 6g/l), brut nature (less than 3 g/l) or brut zero (no added sugar). Do this and there’s only more reason to celebrate!

*Use of the word ‘often’ is because these things are not absolute.

Canadian Krystenne MacMullin has trained at The Wine & Spirit Education Trust and currently works in the wine industry in London, U.K.