Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Wine Nutrition Facst

Health-conscious types are always worrying about the nutritional value of the food they consume.  There's good reason for that.  For instance, if you have tried to eliminate high fructose corn syrup from your diet, you have no doubt found that there is almost no prepackaged food available in regular supermarkets that lacks that substance.

The wine drinkers I know aren't losing too much sleep over how nutritious their favorite beverage is.  In case you are wondering, the nutrition facts for wine, according to Calorie Count , are as follows:

One glass of wine - one 3.5-ounce glass of wine - contains 85 calories, none from fat, 5mg of sodium, no fat, no cholesterol, 2.8 grams of carbohydrates, less than a gram of sugar, almost no protein, no vitamin A or C, 1% Calcium and 2% Iron.

You won't find the familiar nutritional grid on a wine label like you do on other food and beverage items.  Winemakers are not required to conform to that regulation.  For one thing, the nutritional labeling you see on prepared food is the result of regulations from the Food and Drug Administration.  Wine is governed by the Treasury Department's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).  Rarely do federal agencies get a first-column check mark in "working and playing well together."

So, while not a particularly nutritious item to consume, wine does not appear to be harmful from a dietary standpoint.  Aside from nearly 11g of ethyl alcohol - the major detriment which causes wine to receive a nutritional grade of "C" from Calorie Count - and some trace elements, the main ingredient is water, 89g per serving. How bad is that?

Obviously, the abuse of alcohol takes its toll in ways not measured by a simple nutritional profile.  Also, some are allergic to alcohol and react to wine with flushing in the face and neck.  Some people simply have no tolerance for alcohol and shouldn't drink at all.  But let's go forward assuming no alcohol-related health problems and a healthy, light-to-moderate wine consumption level.

After water and alcohol, sugars come in a distant third place on wine's ingredients list.  Sucrose, glucose, fructose and maltose are present, but at least there's no high-fructose corn syrup in there.

The type of wine has a lot to with the nutritional numbers. The nutritional profile above seems to be about the same as that for white table wine.   Red wine shows far less sugar and sodium amounts.  Dessert wines contain much higher levels of sugar but the numbers on other ingredients are pretty much the same as in a table wine.

All this attention to the nutritional aspect of wine is rather silly, of course.  We don't drink wine for its nutritional value, we drink it for taste, for aromas, to complement a meal, for metaphysical or philosophical reasons.  We drink it because we like the way it goes with a salad, with a cool night, a sunny day, a fireplace, Chet Baker, Chet Atkins, the news, a movie or haiku.

The bottom line is, there appear to be no nutritional roadblocks that would prevent you from enjoying a glass of wine.  Conversely, there are no compelling reasons - nutritionally speaking - to include wine in your diet.  If you need to focus on the nutritional value of the things you consume, your time would be better spent looking into high fructose corn syrup than into wine.  Cheers!

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