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Lower calorie wines that actually taste good

Good Housekeeping UK logo Good Housekeeping UK 10/01/2019 Victoria Chandler, Rory Maw
a close up of a wine glass © MarkSwallow - Getty Images

Many of us start the year with good intentions, full of resolutions - including losing weight. But can you cut down the calories from wine without committing to “Dry January”? After all, it’s not as if there’s Diet Sauvignon or Chardonnay Zero on the supermarket shelf to make it easy!

It's probably best to start by talking about where the calories in wine comes from.

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Calories in wine are basically from alcohol or what is known as residual sugar, the naturally occurring grape sugars that haven’t been fermented into alcohol. So, for a dry wine, lower alcohol means lower calories.

That can either be naturally lower alcohol wines, from cooler climates such as Germany where the vines simply don’t produce as much sugar, or where alcohol has been artificially removed.

Glass of wine © Getty Glass of wine It's more complicated with non-dry wines as you need to consider the residual sugar as well as the alcohol and most wine labels don’t specify that, which can be anything from below 2g per litre in a dry wine to as much as 200g per litre in a standard dessert wine. By way of comparison, Coke has 106 gram per litre but no alcohol.

For a handy reckoner, it takes about 17 g per litre to create 1% abv of alcohol in wine so a typical Aussie Shiraz will have started with around 250 gram per litre of sugar before fermentation.

A typical dry wine at 13.0% alcohol will have per around 130-140 calories per 175cl glass, so if you think 10 calories per 1% abv you won’t be far wrong.

In the spirit, if that’s the right word, of New Year austerity, we asked our friends at Wotwine to recommend some lower calorie/alcohol wines. It’s fair to say that they haven't been that impressed with some of the “manufactured” versions on the market, but have come up with some naturally lower alcohol options which are still “real wine” and offer good value too.

First a couple of sparkling options. It’s something of a myth (sadly!) that Champagne is a low calorie wine. Yes, it tends to be slightly lower in alcohol than most still table wine at 12.0-12.5% abv but, unless you’re a fan of Extra Brut, there’s some residual sugar in there too, 6-12 gram per litre for Brut and rather more for Demi-Sec etc. So Wotwine has instead picked an outstanding Prosecco and, more radically, a Lambrusco. Both are 11.0% abv and dry so a saving of 20 calories per large glass!

a close up of a bottle: Lidl Prosecco © Lidl Lidl Prosecco

BUY NOW  Allini Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore 2016, Lidl, £7.99

a close up of a bottle: Asda wine © Asda Asda wine

BUY NOW Solato Lambrusco Dry NV, Asda, £7.50

We’ve said this before but the finest quality low alcohol wines almost all come from Germany, particularly the Mosel where the cool climate (it’s not much further south than the Isle of Wight!) means the grapes are usually picked with much lower levels of sugar and therefore calories. These are two excellent examples from top producer, Ernst Loosen, with around 8% abv.

a close up of a bottle: Asda wine © Asda Asda wine

BUY NOW Dr L Riesling 2016, Asda, £8.50

a close up of a bottle: Waitrose white wine © Waitrose Waitrose white wine

BUY NOW Dr Loosen Urziger Wurzgarten Kabinett Riesling 2016, Waitrose, £15.99

Other options also tend to be from marginal-growing climates where natural grape sugars are low. Here are a couple of examples that Wotwine think are impressive and good value for what they are. One is from Muscadet in North-West France, so cool and rather rainy – think Wales! The other is from, believe it or not, Surrey and remains a reasonable buy although Co-op seems to have put the price up by £1 per bottle recently.

a close up of a bottle: Waitrose white wine © Waitrose Waitrose white wine

BUY NOW La Mariniere Muscadet 2016, Waitrose, £7

a close up of a bottle: Co-op white wine © Co-op Co-op white wine

BUY NOW Limestone Rise White, Co-op, £9

Gallery: 13 Popular Bar Orders Ranked by Sugar Content [Women's Health]


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