Wine bottle illustration Displaying 0 results for
Suggested Searches
Shop
Articles & Content
Ratings

How Many Calories Are in a Glass of Wine?

There are many considerations one can take into account when it comes to choosing a wine to drink, starting from the most basic (red? white? sparkling?) to the more complex (varietal? region? flavor profile?).

But, with a surge of “better for you” marketing claims popping up all over the place, one question that’s risen to the top of many a drinker’s mind is how many calories are in a glass of wine.

Yet wine is supposed to be about enjoyment, and asking about calories kind of feels like a certain, special kind of buzz kill. Still, with more low-calorie wines hitting the market, it seems there is a definite interest in understanding the caloric content of the wine you’re already drinking. So, let’s get into it.

How Many Ounces Are in a Glass of Wine?

To start talking about wine and calories, we have to talk about how much wine you’re consuming. The standard pour for wine is five ounces.

“This means you get almost five glasses of wine from a [standard] 750-ml bottle,” says Abe Zarate, head sommelier at Contento in New York City. “This measure doesn’t really vary in the restaurant and bar industry.”

Of course, there can be a stark difference between ordering a glass of wine from a wine bar and ordering a glass of wine from your local pub. While the standard is five ounces, sometimes you may get a little more than that.

And at home? Well, who hasn’t poured themselves an extra large pour? “While at home you are free to enjoy wines however you choose to, this measurement is suggested to simply give the wine room to breathe in the glass and express all the beautiful aromatics it has to offer as it opens up,” says Zarate.

So, What Does That Mean for Calories in Wine?

According to the USDA, for a five-ounce pour of most dry wines, you have about 120 calories, give or take.

“This ranges based on the residual sugar content of the wine you’re consuming, but on average, all wines typically range from 90 calories up to around 120 calories per glass,” says Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN.

Zarate emphasizes that wine is a pretty good lower-calorie option in comparison to some other drinks. “When compared to other alcoholic beverages, a glass of wine is pretty close to a vodka soda, which is one of the lowest-calorie mixed drinks,” says Zarate. “If you keep an eye on your calorie intake, wine is always a friendly option.”

The biggest tell-tale sign that a wine will be higher in calories is generally alcohol by volume (abv), a.k.a. the percentage presented on the bottle. Most wines contain around 11% to 13% abv, but there are wines that are as low as 5.5% abv and higher than 20%.

“The higher the alcohol content, the higher the calories,” says Brittany Michels, MS, RDN, LDN, CPT and The Vitamin Shoppe nutritionist. “This goes for all forms of alcohol, from wine to spirits to beer.”

This can often—but not always—be tied to the growing region. “The calorie count on wine is mostly impacted by climate,” says London. “Because alcohol comes from sugar, grapes that grow in a warm region will develop more sugars, which [generally] translates to a higher alcohol level in the final product. If you’re not too familiar with regions and their climates, a quick look at the label will show the alcohol content (abv).”

Beyond alcohol, residual sugar—the sugar left over in the fermentation process that makes wine taste sweet—is the main source of calories in wine.

However, like all wine-related topics, determining whether higher sugar or higher calories is worse for you is a bit complicated and personal. Keep in mind: Alcohol is higher in calories than sugar, adding up to around seven calories per gram, as opposed to four calories per gram for residual sugar (i.e. carbohydrates).

Wines with the highest percentage abv and more residual sugar, like Port and Sherry, boast the highest calorie content. They can contain upwards of 200 calories per five-ounce glass and 1,000 calories per bottle, says London.

That being said, the standard serving size for fortified wines or, according to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), any wine with an abv between 16% and 24%, is 2.5 ounces. That’s half the amount of a standard glass, so, if followed, would drastically trim down the calorie content.

Since sugar has fewer calories than alcohol, a sweeter, lower-alcohol wine, like a 5% abv Brachetto or Moscato, can often be a better choice for those looking to cut calories than a drier, higher-alcohol wine like, say, a 16% abv Zinfandel from California.

In general, the best bets are drier wines with less residual sugar and a lower abv. These kinds of wines tend to range from about 90 to 120 calories per glass and 500 to 600 calories per [standard] bottle, says London.

How Many Calories Are in White Wine?

“Typically, light and dry whites will have the lowest calorie count, but that number doesn’t go up too much if you prefer full-bodied reds,” says Zarate. “White wines around 12.5% abv will likely have some of the lowest calorie count in the category.”

This category can include a wide range of varietals, such as Albariño, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc.

As previously noted, many wine styles with lower calorie content tend to be the ones grown in cooler climates. This is unsurprisingly true for many white wines.

While some winemakers in hot climates choose to pick grapes earlier to maintain natural acidity (which also results in a lower abv), the general rule of thumb is that the cooler the climate, the less sugary the grape at harvest.

But this can be complicated by a process known as chaptalization, which is when winemakers add some form of sugar before or during fermentation to increase abv. It is a common practice in cool climates, where sugar levels don’t reach high enough to produce a wine’s minimum alcohol level.

Regardless, sugars are what convert into alcohol, and the more alcohol, the more calories—so, again, look for that percentage on the bottle.

Winemakers around the world produce lower-alcohol wines—with many falling under 11% abv, according to the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET)—though, in particular, cooler regions in Northern Europe have long been known for light and dry whites. This style also dominates the Veneto region in Italy, as well as France’s Loire Valley and Alsace.

Otherwise, there are a few specific varietals and styles that tend to earn their “better-for-you” stripes with lower abv and residual sugar, including Vinho Verde, Albariño, Gruner Veltliner, Prosecco and brut Champagne.

Which brings us to bubbles: Sparkling wine can be dry (very dry, in fact) and have fewer calories than you may think. Look for keywords that indicate “dry,” says London: “Terms ‘brut,’ ‘brut nature’ or ‘extra brut’ indicate lower residual sugar.” (For more details: take a look at this guide to sparkling wine’s sweetness terms.)

How Many Calories Are in Red Wine?

As stated, most wines hover around the 120 calorie mark per glass, and red is no different. Many reds have low abv, and thus, are low in calories. Lighter reds, like a Pinot Noir or a Gamay, may have slightly less calories, but you’ll still want to look at the abv and consider the dryness of the wine.

What Other Things Affect Calories in Wine?

Again, when it comes to looking at calorie count, your best bet is to look at abv. “You’re mostly making an educated guess based on abv and residual sugar content, since [calorie counts are] not listed anywhere on the label,” says London.

That’s at least true for now—in 2021, the European Union announced new regulations that would require wine labels to include nutrition information, including calorie counts. Earlier this year, a handful of Oregon wine producers said they would follow suit, signaling a potential sea change in the United States.

Alcohol is overseen by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) versus the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for food in the U.S. And for now, you won’t see a nutrition label on a wine bottle unless it’s less than 7% abv, the threshold for being categorized as a food product subject to FDA regulation.

These low-abv bottles are often wine products—made with additional juice and food ingredients, and typically contain added sugar.

“Since beverages sweetened with added sugar are the number one source of added sugar in the American diet, I’d argue that from a nutritional point of view, you’re most often better off choosing the real thing versus many of these options,” says London.

What about NA wines? “When it comes to non-alcoholic wines, given that the alcohol is removed, these tend to be even lower in calories across the board,” says Zarate, referring to dealcoholized wines. Both those and wine alternatives that are made to resemble wine boast nutrition labels on the bottles.

Make sure to read those labels if you’re concerned about calories. “The presence of residual sugar in sweeter styles of both non-alcoholic and traditional wines will bring these numbers up,” says Zarate.

But all in all, the experts agree that, while noting calories may be helpful to some, many wines hover around the same amount, and that wine is something meant to be enjoyed.

“Simply because wine is lower in percentage abv does not necessarily indicate it’s ‘better-for-you’,” says London. “I add this because I often see people who are drinking much more wine than they would otherwise, simply because it takes a higher volume to achieve a similar buzz or they’ve bought into the idea that the wine they’re drinking is lower in calories, and are therefore ignoring how much they’re consuming.”

Regardless of abv, residual sugars and overall calorie count, the most important factor in choosing a glass or a bottle should be pleasure.

“Ultimately, from a health standpoint: Your best bet is to choose the wines you enjoy drinking the most, which sets you up to savor each sip and enjoy the experience overall,” London says.


More Health Coverage

red wine glass

From the Shop

Find Your Wine a Home

Our selection of red wine glasses is the best way to enjoy the wine’s subtle aromas and bright flavors.