It seems that most of the advertisements that I see every day right now are related to weight loss, or weight loss products. Or alcohol. While we know strictly from a calorie standpoint that Vodka and Whiskey have less calories per serving than wine, I always something with some element of antioxidants and other positive benefits as well included. I’ve heard that wine combines low calorie counts with high alcohol levels and plenty of other positive factors. It made me wonder, how healthy is wine really?
Let’s start with the basics about wine. A glass of red wine, at 14% alcohol (the average for a California produced wine) contains approximately 120 calories. An equivalent glass of white wine at 12.5% alcohol (the average alcohol content in California as well) contains about 110 calories. If we follow industry standards and consider Vodka the best in class for comparison, a plain vodka contains about 100 calories. Wine is also helped by the fact that the sugar in the grapes is actually what’s turned into alcohol during the fermentation process, so in reality there is very little sugar or carbohydrates in the average glass of wine.
To be clear, some wine does come with residual sugar’s, but even German Riesling (which is most known for their residual sugars) come in at less than 1% sugar, adding only 10-15 calories per glass of wine. The difference between wine and beer in this case is rather striking actually. Drinking a full beer from a well known brand like Budweiser is very much like eating a piece of bread when it comes to carbohydrate intake. Wine is the opposite, there are no real carbs in wine.
Additionally, you should also be aware that certain properties are evident in wine that simply are not available elsewhere. As an example, we know that eating fruit and vegetables is good for us. Certainly eating an entire bunch of grapes would be good as well, right? A single bottle of wine can use as much as 4 bunches of grapes. When you have a glass of wine you get all the heart healthy benefits and cancer reducing benefits found in those grapes, since fermentation isn’t changing the grape juice, only changing sugar into alcohol without changing anything else about the grape itself.
Overall, it seems like wine may be the healthiest alcoholic drink out there. While there are less calories in a straight vodka than a glass of wine, I think we all know the likelihood that anyone is drinking too many vodka on the rock’s because of both taste and the ability to function like anything resembling a normal human being. That’s the core of the main issue with the hard alcohol that so many experts are espousing right now, it is simply not realistic for most consumers to drink a straight vodka. Drinks like vodka tonic’s contain something like soda or juice, hardly a great dietary choice for most people these days given the levels of sugar in those drinks.
Mark Aselstine is the owner of Uncorked Ventures, a wine club focused on delivering high quality wine from Napa Valley, Sonoma and beyond directly to your front door. He notes having seen very few overweight winemakers.