Wine and Diet

The alcohol in wine is its main source of calculable energy. This is supplemented by sugar, which occurs in substantial amounts in some sweet wines. Contrary to requirements in other viticultural areas, any sugar in California wines must be grape sugar, as use of non-grape sugar in production of these wines is prohibited by law.

In a diet, what matters most is not that a wine, or any other food, contains one or more vital components, but rather how the body is able to make use of these components.

We Americans, being well versed in the counting of calories, are becoming aware of the different ways our bodies handle the calories from different foods. It will come as no surprise to us that alcohol is a quick-energy food, with calories that are readily burned rather than stored. Calories from carbohydrates, on the other hand, are usually stored by the body for future use. Here lies the principle value of wine as an energy food when weight loss is desired. It has been shown that alcohol may be used in place of fats or carbohydrates and that it may spare protein in the process. The metabolized alcohol in wine contributes directly not only to the maintenance of body energy, but also to a general decrease in food intake accompanied by a better storage of proteins.

The wines average about 80 calories per 100 cubic centimeters, or roughly 24 calories per ounce. Most of these calories come from their approximate 12% alcohol content. Dry Sherry contains about 33 calories per ounce when the label states 17% alcohol and 38 calories when the label states 20% alcohol. Dessert wines are about 41 to 45 calories when the label states 18% alcohol and 44 to 48 calories when the label states 20% alcohol.

Other sources of calories in wine are the simple sugars, principally glucose and fructose, which are usually stored by the body until their calories are needed for extra energy. Wines may contain from one-fourth of one percent to as much as 10 percent of simple sugars, depending upon the type of wine.

Fructose is two and a half times sweeter than glucose. Research has shown that fructose is able to maintain and repair the liver, and that it serves as an intermediary substance in metabolism.

As for glucose, every physician recognizes that its rapid absorption and complete availability make it an immediately useful energy food. This is especially important when metabolic requirements are excessive. It is a protective agent for all body tissue, and some consider it to be the most important single nutritional factor in the prevention of fatty infiltration of the liver.

Since wine is often used in cooking, it should be pointed out that a dry table wine will lose 35% of its original calories when subjected to sufficient heat to cause its alcohol to evaporate. All the alcohol in a cup of wine placed in a pan in a 300 oven for 10 minutes will boil off. The 15% of non-alcoholic calories remaining would include glycerin, pentose, glucose, etc.

Dessert wines with their higher count of sugar will lose all alcohol calories when heated as above, but will retain their sugar calories. However, if subjected to a high temperature for a longer period of time a Sherry or Port baste on a ham baking in a 300 oven for one hour or more the sugars will carmelize, thus destroying these calories too.

Wine Calories Per OZ. OZ. Per Serving Food Combinations

Red Table Wines
24 to 25
Most preferred with steaks, roasts, game, spaghetti, cheeses, stews, casseroles.
White Table Wines
22 to 26
Most preferred with fish, shellfish, poultry.
Champagnes and Other Sparkling Wines
24 to 25
These festive wines are appropriate anytime, along with food or by themselves.
Dry Sherry
Usually drunk before meals or with soup course.
Dessert Wines
41 to 45
Particularly good with fruit, nuts, cheese, plain cake, cookies.