Many of us enjoy a glass or two of wine. Nothing is better than sitting outside on a warm summer’s evening sipping your favorite tipple. However, some of us are watching our sugar intake nowadays for health reasons, so is there a lot of sugar in wine? In this article, we will be taking a look at why there is sugar in wine and how much there is in different wines.
Why Does Sugar Contain Wine?
Whichever wine we choose, there is some sugar in it. This can vary from a minimal amount to a lot. This is decided by the winemaker and which varietals of wine he or she produces.
The question is, why is there sugar in wine? Well, wine is made from grapes, and like most fruits, they contain natural sugar.
To produce wine, the grapes are fermented by adding yeast. The yeast melts down the natural sugars, turning them into ethanol and carbon dioxide, and eventually into alcohol. If the winemaker wants to make a sweet wine, the fermentation process will be stopped before the yeast has turned all the sugar into alcohol. The earlier it is stopped, the sweeter the wine will be. However, even if the fermentation process runs the full course, there will still be a tiny bit of sugar left. This is called residual sugar and with most wines, we can taste some sugar even if it is minimal.
Some winemakers will add extra sugar to the fermentation process. This is to make sure that there is enough sugar for the yeast to convert the sugar to alcohol.
Where Does the Sugar in Wine Come From?
Unlike the artificial sweeteners and fructose syrup found in soda, wine contains natural sugars. The longer the grapes are left on the vine, the more sugar there will be in the grapes. The wines produced from these grapes are called ‘late harvest wines’ and they are generally sweeter than wines produced from grapes that are less ripe.
If the winemaker is making a fortified wine like Port, Madeira, or Sherry, neutral grape spirits are added to halt the yeast from eating the sugars, leaving the sweetness in the wine.
However, not all wines are pure. Winemakers may add preservatives, sweeteners, and artificial colors during the fermentation process. Extra sugar is often added in cooler wine regions such as Germany and New Zealand where grapes ripen slowly in comparison to warm wine regions such as California and Australia. This process is known as Chaptalization.
There are, however, many winemakers who don’t add sugar and produce wine using traditional methods. Some only harvest small batches of sustainably farmed grapes without adding sugar.
How Much Wine is There in a Bottle of Wine?
The amount of sugar in a bottle of wine varies from as little as 4 grams to as high as 58 grams. It all depends on the variety of wines.
A good way to know how much sugar there is in a wine bottle is to look at the label. Not all labels will tell you how much sugar is in the bottle of wine but many do.
How Much Sugar is There in a Glass of Wine?
The amount of sugar in a glass of wine depends on the variety. White, red, rose, sparkling, dessert, and fortified wines all have different quantities of sugar. It can range between 1 and 8 grams of sugar. Generally, sparkling wines have the least amount of sugar, followed by reds, roses, whites, and then dessert and fortified wines. Dessert wines are about 16 times sweeter than red wines and 8 times sweeter than whites. That’s why dessert wines are poured in smaller measures.
Here is a list of some wines with the sugar levels in a glass of wine.
Less than 1g/L Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Shiraz
1 – 10g/L Pinot Noir, Gamay, Chablis, Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Riesling
10 – 25g/L Prosecco, Gewurztraminer
25 -45g/L Oloroso, Lambrusco
45 – 120g/L Sauternes, Moscato D’Asti, Madeira, Ruby Port, Tawny Port
120 – 220g/L Tokaji Aszu, Rutherglen Muscat, Eiswein, Vintage Port, Beerenauslese Riesling
How Much Sugar is There in White Wine?
White wines can have as little as 1.5 grams of sugar but there are many that have higher sugar levels. It all depends on the variety of the wine but in general, white wines are sweeter than red. If you want to keep your sugar content low but prefer white wine to red, do some research to find which white wines have the least sugar. Chardonnay and Chablis are examples of low-sugar wines.
The Amount of Sugar in a Bottle of White Wine
This, of course, varies, but the average is 7.2 grams of sugar. While this may seem a lot, compare the amount to a single serving of the confection, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, which has a whopping 10.5 grams of sugar in one serving. Because of this, even though white wine may have more sugar than red, the content is still low in comparison to a snack and you get a lot more to enjoy. With this in mind, white wine can still be consumed even if you are watching your weight.
What is the Amount of Sugar in a Glass of White Wine?
According to the USDA which is the United States Department of Agriculture, a 6 oz glass of white wine has about 1.73 grams of sugar but, as we have said, it can vary. Compared to red wines, that is approximately 64% more sugar. Because of this, many doctors advise you to drink red wine if you want to drink alcohol and this is, of course, in moderation. However, the amount of sugar in white wine is much less than in sweets, chocolates, and cakes so it isn’t a disaster if you drink white wine. Pick a white wine low in sugar like Chablis or, if you want to drink a white wine with more sugar, stick to just one serving.
What is the Amount of Sugar in a Glass of Red Wine?
A glass of red wine can have less than a gram of sugar but again, this depends on the variety. There are sweeter red wines so you need to check, especially if you intend to drink more than one glass.
What is the Amount of Sugar in a Bottle of Red Wine?
The USDA states that there are around 4.64 grams of sugar in a bottle of red wine. This may seem a lot but it isn’t when you consider that a glass of soda like Cola has more sugar than this. However, we don’t advise you to drink the whole bottle as drinking in moderation is better for your health, particularly your liver. Plus, it still has calories.
What is the Amount of Sugar in a Glass of Red Wine?
The average amount of sugar in a 6 oz glass of wine is 1.12 grams. Compare this to a glass of soda which has around 12 grams of sugar. You’re much better off having a glass of wine than a Cola. In addition, red wine contains antioxidants that can prevent many illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. White wine also contains antioxidants but not to such a great extent. However, doctors also advise against drinking too much as that can cause illnesses such as cirrhosis of the liver.
Here is a chart with different types of wines and the amount of sugar in them.
Type of Wine Examples Sugar Calories
Luscious or Rich Royal Tokaji 220 – 550 g/L 142 – 250
Dessert Samos 120 – 220g/L 72 – 132
Sweet Moscato D’Asti 45 – 120 g/L 27 – 72
Ruby and Tawny Port
Medium Dry Prosecco 25 – 45 g/L 15 – 27
Off Dry Demi Sec Vouvray 10 – 25 g/L 6 – 15
Extra dry Prosecco
Dry Chardonnay 1 – 10 g/L 0 -6
Bone Dry Nebbiolo Less than 1g/L 0
Tips To Follow To Lower Your Wine Sugar Intake
Hopefully, you now know more about the sugar content of wine and which wines are the sweetest and the driest. We have a few tips to guide you in the right direction if you want to keep your sugar content low. Just because a wine has very little sugar doesn’t mean that it’s not delicious.
1 – To consume as little sugar as possible, choose a dry or bone-dry wine. These wines have very little residual sugar. Red wines tend to be the driest and Cabernet Sauvignon is the driest of all. Despite it being low in sugar it still has fruity flavors of black cherry and blackcurrant. Choose this wine over Grenache or Merlot which have a higher sugar content. Although white wines tend to be sweeter, there are dry white wines with very little sugar such as Chablis and Sauvignon Blanc.
2 – Choose wines with a higher alcohol content as these tend to have less sugar due to the yeast turning the natural sugar to alcohol. If you enjoy red wine, go for Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, or Zinfandel. If you prefer white wine, go for a Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. Wines are considered to have a higher alcohol content if they are above 12% ABV so check the label on the bottle. It always gives the ABV.
3 – Try out dry sparkling wines. They often have very little sugar, especially Prosecco and Champagne. There are sweet sparkling wines on the market so avoid these if you are trying to limit your sugar intake. Asti Spumante, for example, is a sweet wine.
If you want to enjoy a glass or two of wine, you will have to accept that it will have some sugar but we can choose the wines with the least residual sugar. However, the sugar in wine is natural so is better for you than the added sugars you get if you drink a soda or eat a dessert or pastry. This is good news if you don’t want to give up your favorite beverage. We hope that we have guided you towards the wines with the least sugar so you can enjoy them without worrying that you are going to put on weight. The key is to drink in moderation and then you shouldn’t have a problem.