With as many as 60 million Americans avoiding carbohydrates while following 'low-carb' diets such as Atkins and the South Beach diet, the question 'What is the carb rating of a wine?' is frequently asked. So much so, that a US regulatory decision in early 2004 permitted wine producers to market their products as 'low-carb wines' provided they disclose nutritional information on the label.
The regulation permits the use of 'low-carb' on any wine containing fewer than seven grams of carbohydrates in a five-ounce glass. In fact, virtually all dry table wines – and most off-dry bottlings – can easily meet this requirement. Only the sweeter style of White Zinfandels and other mass-market 'blush' wines – and, of course, sugary dessert wines – fail to meet the threshold.
Apart from sugar content, the amount of alcohol in a wine also contributes to its overall calorie count. While an alcohol-free wine will normally have 30–35 calories in a small- to medium-sized glass, a sweet fortified wine, in contrast, can contain up to 180 calories. Therefore, the lighter the wine in alcohol content, the lower its total calorie count will be.
A notable example of 'low-calorie' wine comes from one of Spain's most renowned wineries, Torres, under the Torres 'Natureo Sin' label. At only 0.5% alcohol, this Muscat-based wine (Muscat of Alexandria) offers an excellent choice in the low-carbohydrate aromatic wines category.
A number of other producers now market their wines as 'low-carb'. If you would like to find out the carbohydrate level of your favorite wine, contact the winery directly and ask for an analysis. Alternatively, you can ask your wine store for the calorie specifications of your favorite wines.
Here are a few other examples which fall into the 'low-carb/low-calorie wines' category: