Wine has been around for thousands of years, even being enjoyed in Ancient Greece and Rome. There are different types of wine, red, white, rose, sparkling, and fortified, and within each group, there are many varietals. Each has its own flavors and nutritional values. In this article, we will take a look at red wine and the number of calories, carbohydrates, and sugars to be found.
Overview of Red Wine
Wine is made by fermenting grapes. During the fermentation process, the yeast turns the sugar in the grapes into ethanol and carbon dioxide which leads to the production of alcohol. Red wine is made from grapes that are red or purple-skinned which gives them antioxidant qualities. How good is that? You can enjoy a glass of wine while improving your health! The aroma and flavor of red wine are determined by the grapes used. Sometimes, just one grape variety is used to make wine, while with others, a combination of grape varieties is used.
The maceration and fermentation of must and grape skins determine the color, flavor, tannins, and acidity of the wine.
Color is the first thing you notice when you pour a glass of wine. The color of red wine varies from an intense violet or purple, common in young wines, through to brick red or ruby in mature wines to brown in older wines. Light-bodied red wines tend to have a lighter and more translucent color than full-bodied red wines which means that you can see through them.
Flavor is the next determining factor of red wine. This varies depending on the type of grape used. Typical flavors of red wine include berries such as blackberry, blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, cherries, figs, plums, and raisins. A few have floral tones and others have spice and herbal notes.
Tannins are components found in the skins, stems, and seeds of grapes. They give a dryness, astringency, and bitterness to the wine. White wines have very few tannins because they are fermented without their skins but red wines have plenty. When you drink a glass of red wine, you will often experience a dry mouth. However, depending on the grape, some red wines have more tannins than others. Young red wines tend to have high levels of tannins as they haven’t had time to soften with age. Tannins are, however, necessary, as they give structure to red wines. If you want to soften the tannins, allow the red wine to breathe before pouring. Generally, full-bodied red wines have more tannins, and these include Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux red wines, and Syrah. Sweeter red wines, including Tempranillo and Pinot Noir, have lower tannins.
The last quality of red wine is acidity which is a preservative and a primary agent for the wine’s structure. Red wines are generally less acidic than white wines. The average PH levels for red wines are between 3.5 and 3.8. Red wines with higher acidity tend to be ruby-colored while wines with lower acidity have a purple hue.
Nutrition in Red Wine
Unfortunately, like most drinks and food, red wine has calories. However, even if you are on a diet, you don’t have to give up wine completely. You just need to be aware of how many calories there are in the wine and include it in your daily calorie intake. Of course, different varietals of red wine can vary in calorie count but on average, one ounce of red wine contains 25 calories. This means that an average glass of wine of 5 oz or 150 ml has 125 calories. However, while you may get this measure in a bar or restaurant, at home you probably won’t be quite sure how much you are pouring. As red wine is usually served in larger glasses than white, the tendency is to pour more which will put up your calorie intake.
The two main components that make up the calories of red wine are alcohol and carbohydrates from the residual sugars. Alcohol has 7 calories per gram while carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram. This means that wine gets more of its calories from alcohol. The higher the alcohol content of the wine, the more calories it will have. Red wines tend to have more alcohol than white wines so they are generally more calorific than white wines. However, there are a few red wines that are low in calories such as Cabernet Sauvignon.
When it comes to sugar, grapes contain natural sugars, glucose, and fructose. The glucose usually gets turned into alcohol while the fructose remains in the wine. Unfortunately, although glucose and fructose have the same calories, fructose is more fattening because it can increase abdominal fat gain and cholesterol more than glucose.
Although you get more calories from the alcohol in the wine than the carbohydrates, there are still carbs in red wine and the sweeter the wine is, the more carbs there are.
Grapes are naturally a carbohydrate-rich food because they have a lot of sugar. However, as the yeast turns the sugar into alcohol, the carbohydrate content goes down. The sugars that are left are called residual sugars and they contribute to the carbohydrate count. Even the driest wines have a tiny bit of residual sugar left in them. However, they have the least amount of carbs in them but these wines are usually white. Red wines tend to be sweeter so have more carbs.
On average, a 5 oz glass of wine has 3.5 – 4 grams of carbohydrates depending on the variety of grape and where they were grown.
Unfortunately, our bodies process alcohol differently from food which can cause problems if you intend to drive. Even one drink could put you over the limit. The body needs to absorb all the food in the stomach before it even begins to process the alcohol so the alcohol remains in your bloodstream before finally being broken down by the liver. It takes the liver roughly an hour to process a 5 oz serving of wine although this can differ between people. Larger people can absorb alcohol quicker than smaller and men seem to process alcohol more easily than women. There is nothing you can do to speed up the process. If you have drunk more than a serving, the rest of the alcohol will remain in your bloodstream.
If you are on a low-carbohydrate diet, you should stick to just one glass of red wine a day otherwise you will increase your carb intake considerably.
It is interesting to note that while grapes contain fiber, wine doesn’t so it won’t help you if you are trying to increase your daily fiber intake.
A glass of red wine is a good choice if you are trying to keep your sugar intake low. A 5 oz serving of red wine has, on average, 0.9 grams of sugar which translates to 4.64 grams in a standard 750 ml bottle. This is only 1/5th of the daily recommended amount of sugar we are supposed to have.. Compare this to regular soda which contains around 12 grams of sugar in a glass the same size. Taking this into account, it is better to have a glass of red wine than a coke as long as you drink responsibly. If you don’t, the health negatives can outweigh the positives.
Red wines generally have the least amount of sugar of all wines which is why it is recommended by health experts. It is a good idea, however, to get glasses with pour lines so that you know exactly how much you are drinking.
You will be pleased to know that there are no fats in red wine so if you are on a low-fat diet, you won’t have to worry.
Vitamins and Minerals
Generally, red wine is not high in vitamins and minerals but there are trace amounts. You will get a little of most of the B vitamins, in particular, thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and riboflavin. You also get small amounts of Vitamin K, iron, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus. However, a 5 oz glass of red wine does provide 0.2 mg of manganese which is a 10th of your daily needs. Manganese protects cells that are vulnerable to oxidative stress and free radicals by neutralizing the damaging compounds.
There is hardly any protein in red wine, on average, just 0.1 gr in a 5 oz glass.
Calories, Carbohydrates, and Sugar in Red Wine
As there are many different types of grapes, the wines produced will vary in calorie count, carbohydrates, and sugar content. We have made a list of popular wines and their nutritional values. All figures relate to a 5 oz glass of wine.
Type of Red Wine Calorie Count Carb Content Sugar Content
Pinot Noir 121 3.4 g 0 g
Cabernet Sauvignon 122 3.8 g 1.12 g
Malbec 125 3.8 g 0.9 g
Cabernet Franc 125 3.6 g 5.6 g
Sangiovese 126 3.9 g 0 g
Petite Syrah 125 0.8 g 0 g
Gamay 115 3.5 g 0 g
Syrah 122 3.8 g 0 g
Shiraz 125 3.8 g 0.9 g
As you can see, the calorie count is very similar in the different wines as is the carbohydrate count apart from Petite Syrah which is the one to choose if you are on a low-carb diet. Sugar is generally low apart from Cabernet Sauvignon.
Hopefully, you now know more about the nutritional value of wine. This isn’t only relevant to people who are following a calorie-controlled diet. It is useful for everybody to know how many carbs and how much sugar they are taking in. As you can see, red wine is generally low in sugar and carbs and the calorie content isn’t too high either. There are even a few vitamins and minerals in a glass of red wine but they are just traces so you do need to have a balanced diet as well.