Why you can still drink wine when you quit sugar

By Jordanna Levin |

Photo by: dampphoto/iStock

One of the most common questions we get asked by potential sugar quitters is Can I drink wine when I quit sugar?  Many people are surprised to find that wine contains minimal amounts of fructose and is okay to drink in moderation while quitting sugar. We were in Adelaide recently and caught up with Rosemount Estate chief winemaker, Matt Koch, to get to the bottom of exactly why you can still drink wine when you quit sugar.

Five questions with :

  1. How much residual sugar is there in a glass of wine?
    If the wine has been fermented to ‘dry’ (white or red) it contains very low levels of residual sugar – less than 1g/litre – and in most cases not at a level that can be practically tested.
  2. What happens to the fructose in the grapes?
    Fructose is one of the main sugars contained in grapes. This is converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide by yeasts, which is why at the end of the fermentation process there are minimal levels of fructose remaining, which is why you can drink wine when you quit sugar.
  3. Which wine has less sugar: red or white?
    Generally, high priced, high quality wines are produced as dry wines and contain less than 1g/litre of residual sugar. Commercial dry white and red wines, i.e. wines selling under $10 a bottle, generally contain 3-10g/litre of residual sugar, with white wines containing higher sugar levels than red wines (on average).
  4. What about dessert wines and wines that are sweeter on the palate?
    Dessert wines and sweeter wines contain both fructose and glucose – the levels vary depending on the ripeness of the fruit and the variety of grape. They’ve either been fermented for a shorter period of time so that plenty of sugar still remains, or additional sugar is added to the wine after fermentation.
  5. Are there particular grapes that are better suited for people steering clear of sugar?
    People who want to avoid sugars completely should select dry (i.e unsweetened red or white wines) and they would be advised to look at the more premium end of the wine categories. Always ask the experts. If you’re at a restaurant ask to speak to the sommelier and if you’re choosing a bottle from your local bottle shop the staff should be able to point you in the right direction.

Note: Although this is good news regarding the fructose levels in wine, remember it’s still alcohol. There are a multitude of metabolic and health issues that come with excessive consumption. 

For info on sugar in other alcoholic beverages click here.

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