Are there lots of carbs in red wine? Will one glass ruin your diet, especially if you’re going ultra low carb? Is there such a thing as low carb wine? Find out….
“Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy.”
— Benjamin Franklin
Ben Franklin sure did enjoy the finer things in life, wine included. But back in Ben’s day, colonists weren’t concerned with carbs.
But if you’re watching your carbs and blood sugar levels, is it ok to drink wine. Are grapes even on the low carb fruits list?
When it comes to drinking wine while following a ketogenic lifestyle, it depends. Namely, it depends on the kind of red wine.
A key fact is that the drier the wine, the less residual sugar it has. So dry wine is what you want to drink if you’re really watching your sugar intake. On the other hand, dessert wines such as port wine tends to be higher in sugar.
Most wines have anywhere between 1-4 grams of residual sugar. Without doubt, if you’re trying to reduce the amount of sugar you consume, wine (red or white) is a far better choice than a microbrew.
Are The Carbs in Red Wine Worth It?
Let’s say you’re on a really low carb diet, like keto. You might be wondering if it’s even worth having just one glass of wine. Will doing so kick you out of ketosis?
Ketosis is a complex physiological process. You’ll have to test yourself to see if drinking red wine kicks you out of ketosis. Everybody is different. Person A may be able to have 20 net grams of carbs plus a glass of red wine and stay in ketosis. But Person B may need to limit net carbs to 15 if they want to enjoy a glass of red wine.
But let’s answer a larger question….
Is Red Wine Healthy?
Up until the latter part of 2018, the answer, according to most health experts would have been a resounding “yes.” At least in moderation.
After all, moderate wine consumption has been linked to several positive health outcomes. It has been shown to increase HDL (good) cholesterol while also decreasing LDL (bad) levels. (This is according to research from this meta-analysis of wine consumption.)
Furthermore, studies, such as this one, show no link between moderate wine consumption and weight gain or increasing body fat.
However, a study in the British journal, Lancet, dropped a bomb on this conventional thinking. The study concludes that no amount of alcohol is good for your overall health.
Take the study with a grain of salt. (Or, a slice of manchego if you’re still going to have that glass of red wine.)
But if the only health metric you’re concerned with is grams of net carbs, some wines may be ok for low-carb diets.
Not all wines are created equally, of course. Some wines have a higher alcohol content.
Low Carb Wine: More Calories But Less Sugar
If you’re counting calories, choose a lower alcohol-by-volume content. This is because wines with high alcohol content are typically higher in calories.
However, if you’re not counting calories, and only carbs, you get to enjoy a better buzz. Red wine with higher alcohol content has less residual sugar.
This fact can be confusing. After all, isn’t alcohol a sugar? So wouldn’t it make sense that more alcohol equals more sugar?
You see, during the fermentation process in wine making, the yeast eats up much of the sugar.
Wines with a higher alcohol by volume content ferment longer. Wine starts off as a high-carb beverage. But during fermentation, the microscopic organisms eat most of the fructose and glucose in the grapes.
Dry wines are essentially low carb wines. A dry red wine contains only about a gram of residual sugar.
Low carb red wines are about 14-15% alcohol by volume. Red wine that’s 13% alcohol by volume or lower will be higher in residual sugar.
Red Wine Carbs Vs. White Wine Carbs
Strict calorie counters will probably go for white wine over red. That’s because white wine usually has less alcohol per volume than red wine, which means less calories.
Remember: the lower the alcohol percentage, the higher the residual sugar. That’s the amount of sugar that’s left over after the fermentation process.
Regardless if the wine is red or white, a dry wine will have almost no residual sugar. In general, the cheaper the bottle of wine, the more residual sugar it will have. If you buy a decent bottle of wine in the $15-20 range, it will likely have very little residual sugar.
There are exceptions to the rule, with port wine being a big exception. A serving of port wine can have 10 grams or more of residual sugar.
Another generalization with wine is that full-bodied varieties (rich, complex flavor) are higher in sugar.
Carbs in Red Wine Are Low, Appetite Is High
Even if you stick to very dry wine, keep in mind that drinking alcohol can stimulate appetite. People who drink regularly tend to eat more calories.
But if you can regulate your appetite, you’re probably ok with having a glass everyday.
Nontheless, sugar grams add up. So it’s helpful to learn what types of wine are best for a low carb lifestyle….
If you’re looking for a smart low carb wine choice, a dry red wine is one of your best options.
Red wine has been suggested to play a key role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and other chronic pathologies, including cancer, according to this study.
Dry reds are less sweet, hence, they have less sugar.
A dry wine contains only up to 10 grams of sugar per liter. There are plenty of dry wine options that contain only 5 grams of sugar per liter or less.
Remember, in general, the drier the wine, the less residual sugar it has.
Don’t Put A Label On It
A bottle of wine does not indicate how many grams of carbs there are. Only the alcohol by volume percentage is indicated.
Again, if you’re concerned about carbs, a good low carb wine choice is a bottle with approximately 15% alcohol by volume or higher.
Although some expensive wines can be very high in sugar (think: port, muscat, Madeira), if you stick with a dry or semidry (referred to in the wine industry as ‘off dry’), you’ll likely keep your carb count down.
Smart low carb wine choices
The following styles of wine are typically lowest in carbs:
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Pinot Grigio
Strict low carb and wine every night?
Sure, it’s possible to be very low carb and have a glass of wine every night.
If you keep your daily carb intake low there’s indeed plenty of room in a strict low-carb diet for a glass of wine every night.
Maybe even two glasses if you’re an oenophile. Just remember to stick to the best low carb wine choices. Drink a dry wine that’s not super cheap.
Also important to remember is that if you are doing intermittent fasting, you’ll feel the effects of the alcohol more intensely. That can be both a good thing and a bad thing. Drinking one glass can feel like two. But two may make you feel too tipsy.