Confused by how many calories might reside in your glass of Chardonnay? Australia's Treasury Wine Estates announced plans Tuesday to provide calorie information for its entire international portfolio, which includes Penfolds, Stags' Leap, Matua and Beringer. Treasury will introduce the program in Europe, beginning with wines from the 2016 vintage, with markets in the Americas, Asia, Australia and New Zealand to follow.
“We recognize that consumers are increasingly interested in accessing the facts on calorie content to help them make more informed choices on alcohol consumption,” said Dan Townsend, Treasury's general manager for Europe, in a statement. “We believe a commitment to providing calorie information on our brands is a positive step.”
Calories and other nutrition information will not be listed directly on a wine's packaging, however. Rather, each bottle will include a website address directing consumers to the relevant info. Treasury says the online platform "allows for more flexibility to provide updates to calorie information across our brands and vintages," Roger Sharp, global corporate affairs director for Treasury Wine Estates told Wine Spectator.
The move comes at a time of heightened interest in wine calories. In 2013, a ruling by the federal Alcohol and Tobacco, Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) allowed alcoholic beverages to feature a "Serving Facts" label, similar to the "Nutrition Facts" labels found on packaged grocery products. And on the first of this month, an FDA guideline went into effect requiring chain restaurants to disclose calorie counts for all alcoholic beverages, alongside those for food menu items.
But the TTB ruling leaves it up to wineries to decide whether they want to include serving facts, and the FDA regulation allows restaurants to print a wide calorie range for wines, based on typical calorie counts for each type of wine.
Treasury stresses its goal is to inform the curious, health-conscious consumer, not to appease any regulatory or government body. Responsible consumption is a priority for the company, Sharp explained: "This is a significant and positive step for consumers and for the industry."
Diageo recently announced plans to post calorie counts on its spirits brands, but Treasury is the first global wine company to enact such comprehensive labeling guidelines. As a large, multinational corporation, it possesses the capital necessary to perform costly calorie testing. Many smaller wineries have argued that they lack the financial resources to regularly test their wines and provide nutrition information for each vintage.
So, what should the health-curious wine lover expect to find in Treasury's vault of calorie data? While the company's wine holdings are diverse, the variation of calorie counts across its portfolio will likely be slim. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a 5-ounce glass of dry table wine, defined as a wine with 11 to 14 percent alcohol by volume, contains approximately 120 to 130 calories.