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Carl Hudson
April 27, 2017 | Wine "Fun" Facts | Carl Hudson

How Many Calories Are In My Wine?

Calories in wine are often a concern, especially for folks who are watching their calorie intake.  Although wines are naturally very low in carbohydrates, calories in wine can come from two sources:  1) ethyl alcohol, the conversion product of sugar in the original grapes (or other fruit) and 2) any residual sugar left in or added to the wine before bottling.  In general, dry wines, in which all grape sugar has been fermented to alcohol, tend to have a slightly lower calorie count.  Wines that have been sweetened with addition of sugar or fruit syrup tend to have more calories.  And, fortified wines with more alcohol, especially those like port which have significant residual sugar, will have the most calories.  So, how does one determine how many calories are in that glass of wine. 

For a dry wine, the calorie calculation is relatively simple.  Multiply the % Alcohol in the wine times the number of Ounces in the glass times 1.6.  Here is the formula:

          % ABV  x  #ounces  x  1.6  =  Calories from alcohol

(ex., 6 oz of 13% ABV wine  --  13  x  6  x  1.6  =  125 calories)

Many folks consider themselves “math challenged,” but almost everybody has a cell phone these days.  And, those cell phones have a calculator.  How hard is it to punch in 13 x 6 x 1.6?  Surely you can do it. 

Sugar contains about 114 calories per ounce (4 cal/gram).  One sugar cube, about 0.1 oz, contains 9-10 calories.  One teaspoon of sugar contains about 16 calories.  A typical 12 oz can of Coca-Cola contains 1.55 oz of sugar (44 g) that deliver 176 calories.  To determine the sugar calories in your glass of sweet wine, you need to know three things - number of Ounces, % ABV and percentage residual sugar (RS) in the wine.  Here’s the formula. 

          #ounces  x  % RS  x  1.14  =  Calories from sugar

(ex., 6 oz of 2% RS wine  --  6  x  2  x  1.14  =  13.7 calories)

Now add in the calories from alcohol

          % ABV  x  #ounces  x  1.6  =  Calories from alcohol

(ex., 6 oz of 13% ABV wine  --  13  x  6  x  1.6  =  125 calories)

Total calories then equal 13.7 from sugar  +  125 from alcohol  =  139 calories

Wines with higher RS, such as a typical white Zinfandel or a Port-style wine, have more calories from sugar to add to the calories from alcohol.  Here are two examples.

     White Zin – typical 6% RS  x  6 oz  x  1.14  =  41 calories from sugar

          Determine calories from alcohol  13% ABV  x 6 oz  x  1.6  =  125 calories

          Add 41 cal + 125 cal, and that 6 oz glass of White Zin contains about 166 calories

Port – typical 10% RS  x  4 oz  x  1.14  =  46 calories from sugar

Determine calories from alcohol   20% ABV  x  4 oz  x  1.6  =  128 calories

Add 46 cal + 128 cal, and that 4 oz glass of Port contains about 174 calories

A direct comparison shows that ethyl alcohol has more calories per oz than sugar. 

     Alcohol = 160 cal per oz (5.6 per gram)  vs.  Sugar = 114 cal per oz (4.0 per gram)

So, the next time your friend asks “Does drinking this glass of wine make me look fat?,” whip out your cell phone calculator, do some quick math and deftly sidestep a direct answer to that question by showing your friend how many calories are in that glass of wine. 

Calories in typical 6 oz tastings at 4.0 Cellars are:

Dry Wines - White or Red = 130-140 cal     Sweet Wines = 160 cal


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