Skinny Wine and Marketing Hype: Naturally Low-Calorie Alternatives
Skinny wine brands are popping up everywhere. There’s a constant stream of celebrities endorsing bottles that claim to have the same great taste as our trusted favorites, without those diet-ruining calories. It’s big business, with new brands slipping into our social media feeds every day.
But are they telling the truth? Is there a way to enjoy wine without maxing out your daily calorie allowance? And can skinny wine stand up against the higher-calorie originals?
In this article, we take a deeper look into some of these skinny wine brands, as well as comparing them to our favorite wine varieties. From comparing the calorie content of red, white, and sparkling wine, to delving into how low-calorie wines are produced, to laying out some of the best options for drinking on a diet, we give you the skinny on skinny wine.
How Many Calories Are in Wine?
To understand the allure of skinny wine, you must be familiar with the calorie count of some of your favorites. While all wines have their own stats when it comes to calories, sugar content, and carbs, on average a 5-ounce serving contains around 100-135 calories.
Generally speaking, red wines are higher in calories than white wines, while dry sparkling wines contain the fewest calories.
Full-bodied red wines such as Malbec and Merlot are some of the highest calorie wines, so should be avoided if you’re trying to lower your calorie intake.
However, if you count dessert wines — such as Port, Sherry, and ice wine — they are by far the most calorific wines on the market, with a whopping 250 calories per 5-ounce glass of Port, for instance.
At Usual Wines, we believe that wine is good for the soul and don’t like to get too hung up on calories. However, if you are making a habit of drinking several large glasses of wine a week, you may be unintentionally sabotaging your diet.
To help you make the right choice for your lifestyle, check out this handy list. This is for your standard 5-ounce glass of wine:
- Barbera: 125 calories
- Cabernet Sauvignon: 122 calories
- Carignan: 109 calories
- Champagne: 124 calories (Brut Zero, the driest) to 175 calories (Doux, the sweetest)
- Chardonnay: 120 calories
- Gamay: 115 calories
- Gewürztraminer: 119 calories (164 calories for late-harvest, which has more residual sugar)
- Grenache: 122 calories
- Malbec: 135 calories
- Merlot: 120 calories
- Moscato: 122 calories
- Pinot Grigio: 122 calories
- Pinot Noir: 121 calories
- Prosecco: 90 calories
- Riesling: 118 calories (calorie count will be higher for late-harvest)
- Sangiovese: 126 calories
- Sauvignon Blanc: 119 calories
- Syrah: 122 calories
- Zinfandel: 129 calories
The Best Naturally Low-Calorie Wines
As you can see, the calories in wine really do vary. While some may set you back the same calories as a candy bar, others are as low as a juicy orange.
Wines that are naturally low in sugars also have fewer calories, making them the perfect drink to toast with when you’re trying to watch your weight.
Prosecco is another lower calorie choice. This low-alcohol, sparkling Italian wine has a tiny 80 calories per glass and usually comes in at 11% ABV. Prosecco tastes sharp on the palate, has notes of green apple, and pairs beautifully with cured meats.
If you prefer a low-cal red, then look out for Gamay. This light-bodied French wine is one of the few red wines with less than 120 calories per glass, it has plenty of red fruit flavors, with notes of cranberry, blackcurrant, and even tropical fruits, like banana.
How Is Skinny Wine Made?
Skinny wines are produced in the same way as any other wine — through the fermentation of wine grapes. However, what makes some wines lower in calories is the use of grapes with a lower sugar content.
There are hundreds of different grapes used to make wine. Each grape has its own qualities, downfalls, unique flavors, and properties. Therefore, by selecting a grape that is naturally low in sugar, winemakers can produce lower calorie wines.
Cool climate wine regions, such as parts of Germany, New Zealand, and France, often have lower calorie wines on offer. This is due to the grapes not ripening as deeply as they would in warmer climates, as the longer a grape has to ripen in the sun the more sugars it will contain.
This means cool climate winemakers grow grapes that can happily survive cooler weather, and their grapes are naturally lower in sugar, resulting in lower calorie wines.
When it comes to low calorie sparkling wines, such as Prosecco, winemakers control the amount of sugar they add into the mix, resulting in a low calorie tipple. While it is traditional to add sugar to sparkling wines after their second fermentation, these winemakers choose to add very little, or none at all. This results in a bone-dry wine, which has a low alcohol content and won’t ruin your diet.
What’s the Deal With Skinny Wine Brands?
These days there are plenty of skinny wine brands trying to tempt us away from our trusted bottles with the promise of lower calories and less guilt.
One of the most popular is Skinnygirl Wine, a Californian brand, which boasts that its wines are around 100 calories per serving. While this is slightly below average, you can find similar stats from any of the naturally low calorie wines we’ve included in this article.
While there is nothing particularly wrong with brands like Skinnygirl Wine, their marketing campaigns give off the illusion that their wines are drastically different from other wines on the market. In reality, you can find similar low calorie options if you know what you’re looking for.
For instance, while we do not market it as a low calorie option, our Usual Wines Brut is only 110 calories per serving, while our Usual Spritz (a mix of sparkling wine and guava juice) is a meager 80 calories per serving.
Our point is, you don’t need to buy specialized products in order to watch your calories. Plenty of wines (including ours) are low in sugar, calories, and alcohol, making them a healthy tipple to celebrate with.
Skinny Wine Is Fine, but You Have Options
While skinny wine may be a rising trend, most low-cal wine brands aren't pushing anything new. These wines are low in sugar and alcohol, so they’re naturally low in calories and can be part of a healthy lifestyle.
Secondly, let's be clear, as much as we love Brut, or light-bodied reds, we also adore heavy Cabernet Sauvignons, and treasure ending a meal with a glass of rich Port. Healthy drinking is all about moderation. While we don’t recommend making a habit of drinking high-calorie wines after all your meals, every once in a while it’s the perfect treat.