As wonderful as wine is, with the average 175ml glass containing around 159 calories, this drink is not a friend to the waistline. However, wine is a beverage that’s often enjoyed with food or as a celebratory tipple.
If the excesses of December have made you more conscious of extra calories, the good news is that there are loads of naturally lower calorie wines out there. The trick is to understand how the percentage of alcohol by volume (abv) affects the calorie content. The rule of thumb? With a dry wine the lower the abv, the lower the calorie content. During the winemaking process sugars are converted into alcohol. So if you’re looking to reduce your calorie intake, try swapping your 13.5-14% abv dry wines for those at around 12.5% abv and below. This makes quite a significant difference.
WHITE WINES ARE YOUR FRIEND Dry white sparkling wines are generally the lowest in alcohol – great for those guiltfree moments! Champagne can be as low as 12% abv (95 cals per 125ml glass) while Cava comes in at 11.5% (84 cals) and Prosecco at 11% (81 cals). For Prosecco options, make sure Brut is on the label if you’re looking for a dry wine – although these measures do still contain a small amount of residual sugar. Earlier in 2016, Thomson and Scott launched their own acclaimed lower calorie Prosecco – Skinny Prosecco (11% abv). Skinny Prosecco is an organic sparkling white wine and contains just 67 calories per 125ml glass. Priced at the higher end of the Prosecco market, it’s £17.99 a bottle and available at Selfridges. There are fabulous lower alcohol white and rosé wines available on the market too. Naturally low alcohol wines originate from cooler climates – Cornwall being one of them. At £15.99, Camel Valley (of Cornwall) produces a Rosé for Fortnum & Mason with a 12% abv. Waitrose stocks a branded label German Dry Riesling (£7.99) which also has 12% abv, while Vinho Verde is a refreshing – and slightly spritzy dry wine from North Portugal with an abv as low as 8.5%. Sainsbury’s currently offers one for £5 with 9% abv – that’s under 100 calories for a standard 175ml glass. This light and lemony wine is perfect for a night in with friends, but easily makes a refreshing choice for summer barbeques as well.
RED WINES ARE STILL AN OPTION TOO Despite there being less cool climate red wine production regions, the regions that do exist produce outstanding low alcohol wines. The Loire Valley in France produces excellent wines made from the Cabernet Franc grape. This is a fresh floral wine with herbal notes, bundles of character and enough body to fully satisfy any red wine drinker. Look out for bottles of Chinon, Bourgueil and Saumur Champigny. The Wine Society sells a fabulous Saumur Champigny Clos des Cordeliers for £9.95, with 12.5% abv. You must also try Beaujolais, the sommelier’s favourite and such a versatile wine to pair with food. Made from the Gamay grape, some of these wines can go as low as 12% abv and are extremely good value for money.
COCKTAIL FLAVOURS TO TANTALISE THE TASTEBUDS There’s plenty of low calorie cocktail options worth a mention here. Clear 40% abv spirits like vodka, gin, white rum and tequila are the lowest in calories and come in at around 72 calories per 35ml measure. If you pair them with slimline tonics or sparkling water with zests of citrus fruits, muddle in some mint, or even create other herbal infusions with basil, lavender, thyme or verbena – you won’t add any significant extra calories into the mix. Instead you’ll be creating a light, fragrant party drink. Try a dry minty mojito, or if your sweet tooth is getting the better of you, add a teaspoon of stevia instead of sugar. Stevia is a plant-based sweetener found in most supermarkets or health food shops. With plenty of lower calorie alcohol options available to enjoy throughout 2017, guilt-free wine remains on the menu. Cheers!