A glass or two of wine with appetizers or dinner marks the end of the day, a TGIF Friday night, or a dinner out at a restaurant and is a standby at the bar at every party and is the specialty of the house at trending wine bars. You might not want to think about calories when you're chilling out or partying, but they all add up, whether you favor a glass of red or white.
And wine calories are a hot topic, especially with all of the trendy Mediterranean-based diets and red wine's resveratrol tie to healthier hearts and trimmer waistlines. But while you are focused on all this healthy eating and wine's benefits, you might be wondering how much it' s costing you in the calorie department. One glass doesn't add many, but if you keep refilling it, that number gets pretty high pretty quickly. As always, moderation is the key.
Calories in Wine
Red wines typically have slightly lower amounts of residual sugar than white wines. So if you are strictly comparing apples to apples, the calories in red wines like cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, Zinfandel, Malbec, and merlot will often be a little lower than those found in a glass of white wine like chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, or pinot grigio.
But most nutrition charts don't split hairs on residual sugar content and allow for both red and white wines to weigh in at 25 calories per ounce of wine. But if you are drinking a sweet dessert wine or ice wine, the calorie count will be a bit higher because of the extra sugar these wines contain.
Wine and Calories: The Bottom Line
Just like all other aspects of calorie-counting, it's the portion size that really matters. Most nutrition charts have a caloric content that is based on a 4-ounce glass of wine (literally a half cup), yet most wine glasses are filled with 5 to 6 ounces of wine (called a standard pour), making a realistic glass of wine more like 125 to 150 calories per "real world" serving. It's easy to see how quickly you could add 300 calories to your daily intake with just a couple of glasses. For comparison, a 12-ounce bottle of regular Coke has 140 calories and a 12-ounce bottle of beer packs on 148 calories.
Exact Calorie Counts
For some, knowing that there are about 25 calories in an ounce of wine is just not enough. They want to know exactly how many calories are in their Merlot or sauvignon blanc. For those detailed dieters, there's the official USDA National Nutrient Database wine calorie count, broken out by wine varietals. This chart also lists the carbohydrates for each variety of wine.