Wine developers hope to lure health-minded consumers with new low calorie wine products, which have a reduced level of alcohol — as well as only 75-100 calories — per serving. And though they boast slightly lower calorie counts, it's important to note that they don’t necessarily contain any magic key to weight loss.
It’s the alcohol in drinks that make them high in calories — a gram of alcohol has seven calories, while a gram of protein has four, and fat has nine. Typically, regular wine contains about 12 to 13.5 percent alcohol by volume, whereas low calorie wines range from about 7.5 to 13 percent. So drinking low calorie wine, which also has reduced levels of alcohol, may sound convenient for people who wish to curb their drinking while enjoying themselves a bit, too.
These wines have names like Girl Go Lightly and SkinnyGirl. The winemakers claim that the wine is just as tasty as regular wine; it simply contains less alcohol, and therefore fewer calories. “It’s real wine,” Nicole Carter, spokeswoman for Treasury Wine Estates, told Reuters. “The quality is there. We don’t skimp on the quality — just the calories.” And they are targeting women in particular, as the majority of wine buyers are ladies, accounting for up to 60 to 75 percent of wine purchases, according to Reuters.
Wine blogger Andrew Duff notes on Yahoo! Food that it’s important to check the levels of sugar in low calorie wines, as manufacturers may try to add more sweetness to improve the taste. “Between 80 and 90 percent of energy in wine comes from alcohol, only a minority is found in the sugars,” he wrote. “Yet the more sugar present, the bigger this minority becomes. On average there are seven calories per gram in alcohol, whereas sugar has four calories per gram of alcohol… [Make sure you] check the alcohol percentage and take note of sugar and carbohydrate levels.”
Red Wine: Pros And Cons
There are mixed results on many studies about alcohol consumption and its health risks and benefits. Some doctors believe alcohol — red wine in particular — when consumed in moderation can have positive effects on the cardiovascular system. Others claim drinking any alcohol at all can increase the risks of cancer. “Some evidence suggests that small amounts of alcohol may have a protective effect on heart disease, but the benefits only outweigh the risks in those particularly at risk of heart disease, such as men aged over 40 or postmenopausal women,” the World Cancer Research Fund states on its website. In a press release in 2010, the charity also recommended that alcohol drinkers ought to switch to lower alcohol drinks, as it may lower the risk for liver cancer, breast cancer, or mouth cancer. “From a cancer prevention point of view, it is best not to drink at all,” Dr. Rachel Thompson, the Science Programme Manager for WCRF, said in the press release. “But we have to be realistic and the fact is that many people … enjoy a drink and see it as part of their social life … If everyone who drinks 14 percent wine at the moment and switched to lower-alcohol wine tomorrow, for example, it is likely hundreds of cancer cases in the U.K. a year could be prevented.”
But there have also been a number of studies of the health benefits of red wine. Red wine contains an anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer element called resveratrol, which is also found in blueberries and peanuts. “There’s no question that people who drink moderately have lower rates of heart attacks, lower rates of diabetes, and live longer,” Dr. Eric Rimm, associate professor in the epidemiology and nutrition departments at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, told the Boston Globe. “If you ask most cardiologists, they would say drinking in moderation is beneficial.” So whether that means drinking fewer drinks — or drinking the same amount but with low-calorie wines — moderation itself, is the key.
A proposal released in May 2013 by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) hopes to put regulations in place that will allow drink manufacturers to label their alcoholic products with nutrition facts. Until then, for those either watching their weight or simply hoping to reduce the copious amounts of alcohol they consume, drinking low-calorie wines may be helpful in adjusting diet accordingly.