Low-sugar wine may be a beneficial option for people on a keto diet or those individuals with diabetes. However, which wine has the least amount of sugar? How can you gauge this fact if you’re uncertain?
Just as importantly, can people on a keto or diabetes-management diet even drink wine at all? Let’s break down these essential facts below to make sure you stay healthy and safe.
Which Type of Wine Has The Lowest Amount of Sugar?
Wine sugar content will vary quite heavily depending on the bottle you purchase and the type of wine you buy.
However, it is accurate to say that white wine has the most amount of sugar, while red wine has the least amount. This lower level has a lot to do with how the wine is manufactured and fermented. The longer a bottle of wine ferments, the less sugar it contains.
That’s because the yeast that produces alcohol eats sugar and leaves behind the alcohol content you find in a wine bottle. Sweeter wines typically have less alcohol because they have not fermented as long and produce less overall alcohol.
As a result, you can get around four to 220 grams of sugar per liter in a single bottle of wine, with red wine having the least amount. It is also worth noting that red wines can also be quite healthy in moderation.
Typically, you get around 0.9 grams of sugar in a 175-milliliter glass of red wine. That amount is much lower than you get from many sweeter white wines.
However, some red wines may contain a higher amount of sugar if they’ve been fermented for a shorter amount of time. For instance, a good rosé can have between 35 and 120 grams of sugar per glass, while dessert wine has seven grams.
By contrast, a dry white wine can have around 1.4 grams per 175-milliliter glass.
Again, that will vary depending on the white wine’s overall sweetness and dryness. Generally speaking, though, red wines that ferment the same time as a white will normally have less sugar.
Why is this the case? Manufacturing processes, grape type, and much more all play a part in this situation.
Related: Calorie count in a bottle of wine.
How Much Sugar is in Wine?
The amount of sugar in your wine will vary based on many factors.
First, all wines have some residual sugar, with dry (and high-alcohol) wines having much less than sweet (and low-alcohol) options.
It should be noted that some winemakers fortify their wines, which includes adding more sugar.
Let’s break down some of these standard sweetness levels to get an idea of where your wine lies.
- Sparkling Wine
For example, sparkling wines typically have around 6-20 grams of sugar per liter, about 0.6-2 percent residual sugar per liter. This level is nearly as dry as it gets for most wines and typically includes a multitude of different whites and reds.
- Sauvignon Blanc
- Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio
- Riesling, and more.
Related: Calories in a bottle of Pinot Grigio.
- Meanwhile, dry red wines include:
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Pinot Noir
- Cabernet Franc
- Lambrusco Dolce, and more.
- Fortified Wines
But what if your red or white wine is labeled a fortified wine? This means it has about 150 grams per liter or 15 percent residual sugar. A Port, Sherry, and Marsala typically include this higher sugar level and may be pretty sweet.
- Dessert Wines
The above may seem like a high amount of sugar, but dessert wines may have as much as 200 grams of sugar per liter or even more.
- Semi-Dry Wine
If incredibly sweet or dry doesn’t appeal to you, you’re not alone. A good semi-dry wine (like Riesling, Chenin Blanc, and White Zinfandel) contains around 10-50 grams of sugar per liter. They work as a good option if you want some sweetness but not too much.
Alcohol and Calories: Low Alcohol Wine vs. Low-Calorie Wine
You’re not alone if you’re trying to watch your sugar intake.
Doctors state that women need only six teaspoons of sugar every day, with men having nine teaspoons a day. A teaspoon is about four grams of sugar, meaning that women can have 24 grams and men 36 grams or so.
As you can see, even a relatively dry bottle of wine may have close to this sugar content: some sweeter wines may go over that with a single glass.
Unfortunately, wine manufacturers aren’t required by law to list the nutrients in their wine, meaning you may have a hard time knowing what wine is low-sugar and low-calorie.
However, there are a few tricks that you can use to calculate this fact. First, low-sugar wine doesn’t necessarily indicate low-calorie because alcohol has a high level of calories: more so than sugar.
For instance, one gram of alcohol contains seven calories, while one gram of sugar has around four calories. As a result, white wine (notably sweeter options) is ironically lower in calories than red wines with less sugar.
Does that mean white wine is better for you? Not necessarily. Those trying to balance their sugar may need a higher-calorie, lower-sugar option to avoid health complications.
Typically, sparkling champagne or other types of wine are the lowest-calorie options, as they have less alcohol and little sugar. Brut sparkling wines are particularly beneficial here, as they naturally have less sugar and fewer calories.
Before buying a bottle, though, you must know how to measure the alcohol content to understand a wine’s dryness and sugar content.
How Can You Measure Alcohol Content In Wine?
The most apparent trick here is to read the label of your bottle and check for the alcohol percentage.
The higher the percentage, the lower sugar you’re likely to have in the wine. Note, though, that the calorie count will inevitably be higher, so be careful when balancing your needs here.
What if you don’t have the label on the bottle? You may call the manufacturer and ask, find another bottle, or take other steps.
For instance, winemakers (particularly homebrewers) use a device known as a hydrometer to gauge wine gravity.
This device measures the alcohol by volume (ABV) in wine and informs you how much alcohol is in it. The lower your reading, the more alcohol you have in your wine. These devices may be available at brewing shops or online and provide a quick and easy way to assess your bottle.
Honestly, though, it’s usually better to just contact the manufacturer to learn more because hydrometers may give slightly inaccurate readings, mainly if you buy an inexpensive, homebrewing model.
However, once you know your wine’s alcohol by volume, you can use this information to calculate your alcohol units. This number can help you figure out more about the quality of your wine.
How Many Alcohol Units In a Bottle of Wine?
Here’s a simple formula that you can use to quickly figure out how many alcohol units you have in a bottle of wine.
Multiply the ABV by the milliliters of your wine and divide the amount by 1,000. This will give you the alcohol units.
For instance, let’s say that your red wine has an ABV of 10% and is about 250 milliliters.
You would multiply that 10 by 250 to get 2,500.
After dividing by 1,000, you get 2.5 units of alcohol.
That would equate to about 5.6 bottles of wine per week or five and two-thirds.
Higher alcohol ABV and larger bottles would naturally produce a higher alcohol unit content. Make sure to plan your consumption around this number to avoid health issues.
Typically, doctors recommend no more than 14 units of alcohol per week for both men and women. Use this information to avoid unhealthy drinking decisions.
Why Is Sugar Added to Wine?
Winemakers may add sugar to their wine to make them sweeter and easier for some people to enjoy. However, winemakers usually add more sugar to wine to produce higher alcoholic content.
It starts early in the fermentation state when cane or beet sugar is added to the grapes before fermenting. This process (chaptalization) provides more sugar for the fermentation yeast to eat, producing more alcohol.
This process has become common mostly in cooler countries and cold-weather growing regions because it helps to increase alcohol levels (grapes commonly have a low sugar content in these regions) and make their wine more enjoyable.
However, many countries have banned this practice. For example, Australia, Italy, Argentina, Spain, South Africa, Portugal, and Greece do not allow for chaptalization, while France and Germany do.
Buying Natural Wine
Natural wine may be a good option for people on a keto diet or with diabetes. In this way, it is good to know which wines have lower sugar content.
Natural wine contains less sugar and could help avoid sugar balance problems. However, it is important to always talk with your doctor first before changing your diet in any way.
A keto diet restricts how much sugar or carbohydrates you can eat in a day, making enjoying wine very difficult.
Typically, you can eat 25-50 grams of net carbs (carbohydrate count minus the dietary fiber) every day. The driest glasses of red wine typically have less than that amount, but you should still be careful in choosing an option that makes sense for your needs.
Dry wines cause minimal sugar balance changes in a diabetic person’s body.
The higher the sugar content, the more potential risk. People with diabetes who want to enjoy wine should carefully choose a dry red wine with minimal sugar.
That said, alcohol is considered a type of carbohydrate, so it is essential to talk with your doctor before buying any wines.
- Shrimp Cocktail (and More) Wine Pairing Guide - 09/06/2022
- What Wine Serving Sizes Look Like: Standard Size and More - 08/06/2022
- How Much Sugar is in Wine: Glass and Bottle Sugar Content - 08/06/2022