We’ve all heard the adage that red wine is heart healthy. Today’s modern medicine also suggests that it’s full of antioxidants. The presence of antioxidants provides evidence that it is good for your heart and for aiding in the prevention of cancer.
Okay, so wine is ‘healthy,’ but is it diet friendly? The answer depends on what kind of wine you are consuming and other factors that determine how your body will metabolize the calories. Sweet reds contain a much higher sugar content than dry selections. Similarly, red wines generally have a higher alcohol content than white wines do. The higher percentage of alcohol, the more calories there are in your glass.
How Strong Is Your Red Wine?
To determine how many calories you’re drinking, first, let’s look at the alcohol content of red wine. The alcohol content is measured with an ABV percentage. ABV stands for alcohol by volume. Dryer wines like Cabernet Franc and Merlot have significantly higher percentages of alcohol by volume but are still considered a medium body. Medium bodied red wines fit the bill for the “average” ABV. Sweeter reds like Pinot Noir are on the lower spectrum, while the strongest-bodied wines include Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. Typically, you can tell where a particular wine falls on the spectrum by how dark it is. This is because red fruits are used to make lighter bodied wines, and black fruits are used for bolder-flavored wines.
The ABV Formula
So, how many calories are in red wine? While you can’t always determine the exact number of calories in a particular wine, you can get a general estimate. Keep in mind that the red wine with the lowest calorie count is Pinot Noir, which clocks in at 23 calories per ounce.
If you’re an avid calorie counter and need to know how many you’re consuming, use this formula to determine how many alcohol calories are in your glass (or bottle!): Calories Per Ounce x Number of Ounces = Total Calories Consumed
Here is a general guide for the average amount of calories per ABV. These numbers are provided at Calorie King (http://www.calorieking.com/calories-in-wine.html) and are a general guideline for each type of wine. Different brands can vary in sugar and alcohol content.
Bold (high ABV) – 27 calories per ounce
Medium (medium ABV) – 25 calories per ounce
Light (low ABV) – 23 calories per ounce
To make it easy to stick to your calorie goals, we’ve compiled a list of the most popular wines along with their corresponding ABV category.
Light-Bodied Red Wines
Light-bodied wines can be enjoyed more frequently or in higher volume, without compromising on your caloric intake.
- Schiava – Also called Vernatsch, Black Hamburg, or Trollinger, this sweet red carries hints of rose, strawberry, bubblegum, and cotton candy.
- Gamay – A similar cousin to Pinot Noir, Gamay has delicate floral aromas and earthy notes.
- Pinot Noir – Another subtle wine, Pinot Noir embodies fruity flavors like cranberry and cherry that pair with earthier notes of vanilla, cloves, licorice, mushroom, caramel, and tobacco.
Medium Bodied Red Wines
- Carignan – Often referred to as the perfect food wine, Carignan offers smooth and rich fruitiness with less bitterness than Cabs. This wine has fruity aromas of cherry and cranberry and spicy flavors of cinnamon and black licorice.
- Cabernet Franc – This wine brings a little exotic spice to the table. Cabernet Franc has dominant flavors of strawberry, chili pepper, bell pepper, red plum, and crushed gravel.
- Sangiovese – This medium body red is dominant in its tart cherry and tomato flavors. Older wines have subtle aromas of fig and rose.
- Barbera – Though medium bodied, Barbera has a very rich flavor of strawberry and sour cherry with herbal notes of violet, lavender, vanilla, nutmeg, and anise.
- Merlot – Merlot is a smooth fruity wine starring black cherry, raspberry, and plum. Graphite, cedar, tobacco, vanilla, mocha, and clove give it an earthier profile.
- Zinfandel – Primary flavors of red Zinfandel include blueberry, black pepper, cherry, plum, boysenberry, cranberry, and licorice. Its bold fruitiness is followed by spicy notes with a smoky finish.
Full-Bodied and Bold Red Wines
- Tempranillo – This Spanish wine has wonderfully contrasting flavors of cherries and leather. Plum tomato and dried fig, with subtle hints of cedar, vanilla, dill, and clove make this red wine earthy, yet striking.
- Malbec – There are two prominent types of Malbec. Argentina wines offer forward fruit flavors of blackberry, plum, and cherry with notes of cocoa, violet, leather, and tobacco. French Malbec wines have a bitter, savory flavor that is leathery. Prominent flavors are tart currant and black plum. More subtle attributes in this wine are black pepper and spice.
- Bordeaux Blend – Bordeaux blends come in many varieties, each containing a mix of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, or Petit Verdot.
- Cabernet Sauvignon – Always a full-bodied wine, Cabernet Sauvignon also has a lot of varieties. They are usually a dark fruit flavor with savory tastes like black pepper and bell pepper.
So, there’s something to be said about lighter wines. When you want to enjoy more than just one glass, go for a lower alcohol content. If you want full-bodied wine, stick to one glass. Take a peek at our list the next time you want to make a wine selection when calories are on your mind.