Institute of Drinking, blog of @whatrodisdrinkn

Need Low Calorie Wine Options? Many exist without buying special WW Wines.

Weight Watchers announced today a partnership to create special low calorie wines. I heard it on the radio today driving into work. I get the appeal especially from their loyal customers. They are very successful at what they do and I'm guessing shaving a point off a glass of wine seems like an intoxicatingly good idea. But really......wines produced specifically to be low calorie just seems a little gimmicky too me. Further, as an industry professional, I've seen my fair share come and go with minimal success. Remember Skinnygirl? Or how about Bartles & Jaymes Light?

I've got good news for you all. While I haven't tasted these new WW wines to know if I could recommend them or not, I'm here to tell you that you really don't need them to save a few calories. Really all you need is a little information......

The bottom line is simple. To save calories you have to cut the alcohol level in the wine and/or the sugar.

Your typical glass of wine ranging from 130-300 calories it makes sense to try to save enough calories to not feel bad about a second glass. There are thousands of wines out there that will deliver the same skinny calories as the new Weight Watchers wines. They already exist and pretty much available at any good, full service wine shop. Interested?

Here are the basics:

1. Look for wines with lower alcohol. Ideally, look for wines with 12% ABV or less. Before you start looking for the fine print on every bottle, I'll help you narrow it down. Whites tend to lower in alcohol than Reds. Wines from cooler climates tend to get grapes that are less ripe than sunny & warm California and therefore produce less alcohol....less calories. Look for wines like Muscadet, a delicious Loire wine that by law has to be 12% ABV or less, Pinot Grigio, Vino Verde, Gruner Veltliner are great ideas or if you really are a Chardonnay lover try a Macon Villages or Pouilly Fuisse. They are 100% Chardonnay but with lower alcohol than most their California siblings. If you are a red wine drinker there are options for you as well. An easy place to start looking is in the import section for Old World wines from cooler climates. The big heavy Cab, Merlot & Malbec might be out but options like Barbera, Cru Beaujolais, and Red Burgundy (Pinot Noir) are delicious.

2. I hope you love bubbles. Champagne, Prosecco, Cava are all types of sparkling. They are delicious and the great news is they are mostly calorie friendly. There is a reason super models drink Champagne backstage! Dosage is the term we use for knowing how much sugar was added back as they finished the wine. Brut is the most commonly seen style that is dry. Extra Brut or Savage styles are actually drier but aren't as commonly seen. Dry means less sugar which means less calories. A typical glass of prosecco is about 80 calories or 5 less than the WW wines!

3. Rose All Day! Everyone knows I love Rose but guess what? It is also diet friendly. Most dry Rose comes in around the 80-85 calorie per 5 ounce glass range and is oh so satisfying for cocktailing, great with all kinds of lightly grilled foods, pizza, burgers, you get the idea. Everyone in the industry loves dry rose and it has finally caught fire this year. The trick is not drinking too many glasses and ruining the point of going low cal.

So.....I can't really recommend the WW wines because it is straight up a gimmick when there are so many other easy choices that will accomplish the same thing and in some cases beat them.

Here are a few recommendations of wines that are lower calorie and taste great! Like all my recommendations you should be able to find all of these at your favorite retailer or ask them to order them for you. I would expect everything to be 100 calories or less.

1. LaMarca Prosecco. It is the best selling Prosecco and I'm a huge fan of the quality as well. At about 80 calories you can drink like a supermodel and not purge when you are done! Available in mags, 750 ml and really awesome 187 ml sizes.

2. Jermann Pinot Grigio. Friuli Italy. Regarded as one of the finest examples of Pinot Grigio. I mean if you are gonna do it, do it right but skip the overrated Santa Margherita. If you need something cheaper than $20 I never have a problem pulling the cork on Cavit or Santa Cristina. I like these because they actually have a little flavor.

3. Cave de Lugny Macon Villages. This is just a delicious little 100% Chardonnay but not a big, oaky, buttery one. This one has crisp, light, green and red apple flavors. If you can't find this one never hesitate to grab a bottle of Georges Duboeuf Macon Villages. In the 70's and 80's this wine was a staple. Stick with fresh vintages.

4. I could name a bunch of Rose that I adore but here is my short list every time: Bieler Pere et Fils Rose, Fleur de Mer, and Whispering Angel. They are all generally available and delicious. Dieting never tasted soooooo good.

5. For Red wine lovers who just won't compromise to whites, rose or bubbles consider one of my all time favorite glasses of red wine. Barbera d'Asti. The red fruit is bright and fresh with easy soft tannins yet has plenty of flavor and extraction. I like the Renato Ratti Barbera d'Asti. Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Villages is light and fresh and can taste like strawberries and berries. It won't be a substitute for Cabernet but a delicious little wine often overlooked. For both these wines look for young vintages. They usually all run in the 13% ABV range which will get a glass for 90-100 calories.

If you are looking to save a few calories my friends.....that's what I'm drinking!


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