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Dear Dr. Vinny,
I heard that “skinny” wines are just a marketing ploy. Is that true? Are there any wines that are low in sugar and calories?
—Krissie, Surrey, England
There are a lot of wines out there marketed as low in calories, and who doesn’t want to be healthy while also drinking wine?
Most wines that clock in at 11 to 14 percent alcohol have about 120 to 130 calories per 5-ounce glass. Wine’s calories tend to come from the alcohol (about 7 calories per gram), so one strategy is to look for lower-alcohol wines.
The “skinny” wines out there do tend to have fewer calories, but I’d call it a marginal difference. You might drop from 120 calories to 100 calories in the same serving size, though Weight Watchers recently started marketing a wine that has only 85 calories a glass.
There are a couple of ways a winemaker can reduce the alcohol—and thus the calories—but sometimes these methods can strip away the flavors that make wine so yummy. For starters, they can pick the grapes before they are very ripe and have a lot of sugar. The more sugar the grapes have, the more alcohol that ends up in the finished product, but it’s more than just sugar that develops when grapes ripen, it’s flavor too. There’s also a technique called reverse osmosis, by which some of the components of the wine are separated out and then reconstituted, leaving some of the alcohol behind.
If you’re looking for lower-calorie wines, talk to your local wine merchant and ask if they can recommend any wines that are lower in alcohol. Happy hunting!
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