Reader mail: Which has more calories, red or white wine?
-Jill via yahoo mail
Well although I am a doctor, I’m not that kind of doctor. But I know where to turn. So I sat down with Geoff Kalish, MD who used to write a column about wine and health for the Wine Spectator.
Dr. Vino: So which is more caloric, red or white?
Dr. Kalish: Neither. The color of the wine makes no difference on the calories.
Dr. V: Aha! A red herring. So what does make one glass of wine more caloric than another?
Dr. K: Primarily, the alcohol level. A four ounce glass of wine at 12 percent alcohol has about 120 calories; the same size with a wine 14 percent alcohol has about 140-160 calories; a 16 percent alcohol wine, about 160-190 calories.
Dr. V: Holy Turley, Batman! What about residual sugar in a wine? Does that make a difference in the calories?
Dr. K: Not as much as alcohol.
Dr. V: What about moscato d’Asti at 5.5% alcohol and lots of sugar?
Dr. K: Sugar provides many less calories per gram than does alcohol (4 compared to 7). Moscato is a lower calorie wine. That, prosecco, brut zero Champagne are all low calorie wine choices. It’s zinfandel, amarone, some California chardonnays, for example, that have higher calories because of the alcohol level.
Dr. V: So should people watching their weight cut wine out as an easy way to reduce calories?
Dr. K: No. Research has shown a small amount of wine in a weight loss plan can actually act as an appetite suppressant, in part because of the alcohol level as well as the pectin content. However, young, tannic reds appear not to have this effect, so aim for a wine that is 11 – 12% alcohol and not overly tannic.
Dr. V: Interesting. I thought red wine was overall the “healthier” drink because of those tannins.
Dr. K: Tannins may have other health benefits but this is just in terms of acting as an appetite suppressant.
Dr. V: All right, thanks. And bottoms up with a dry chenin blanc!