Depending on the type you drink, white wine can contain anything from less than 1g of sugar (less than a quarter of a teaspoon) per glass right up to 6g (one and a half teaspoons) per glass. Below I'll go through how sugar makes it's way into white wine, along with the best and worst offenders if you are trying to cut down your sugar intake.
Low sugar and low carb diets, like the Ketogenic Diet and the Dopamine Diet have gained huge popularity among people in recent years for a whole host of reasons. Many people follow them to lose weight, but reducing the sugar (natural and added) in your diet has also been shown to be beneficial for a multitude of health problems.
The thing is, for most of us trying to reduce the sugar in our diets, we don't want to lose the little pleasures in life - like having a glass of white wine when you come in after a long day at work. The good news is, you don't have to! Keeping the little joys like indulging in some of our vices can help make any diet sustainable and much more likely to turn into a permanent lifestyle change. This promotes long term success and can encourage change to some of the eating habits that may have gotten us in this position in the first place.
So keep reading to find out how you can stick to a low sugar diet and still enjoy a glass of white wine with a meal or to help you relax in the evening.
So can I still have white wine on a no or low sugar diet?
First of all we need to understand the basics - where does the sugar actually come from in white wine? Surprisingly enough most of it doesn't come from the alcohol content, it's mainly made up of something called residual sugar.
Grapes, which are used to make wine, are fruits naturally high in sugar, and during the fermentation process, winemakers use a yeast called Saccharomyces cerevisiae (definitely can't say that after a few glasses!), which feeds on those grape sugars to produce alcohol. The longer the yeast gets left in for, the more sugar it converts to alcohol and the less residual sugar the wine will have.
Obviously, the type of grape that the winemakers have used to begin with will also dictate how much sugar ends up in the wine as well.
Great! So we just have to check which wine has the least residual sugar, right? Unfortunately, it's not quite that straight forward. Unlike food products, wine bottles will hardly ever list the nutrition details on the labels, let alone include residual sugar.
The best thing you can do is follow the below advice when choosing your wine. Generally, the lower the residual sugar in the wine, the drier it will be - and dryness is something that is often included on the label.
A dry white wine is usually considered to have less than 10g of sugar per bottle, so a glass can be quite innocent even on a low sugar diet. You want to avoid value wines however, which typically have higher sugar contents to make them sweeter, so try to aim for something slightly more upmarket if possible! European brands of wine are often good choices as they tend to prioritize dryness over sweetness.
Below are some of the best white wines to reach for on a no or low sugar diet, with the sugar content by glass and also by bottle, assuming you've got a normal 750ml bottle with a standard 5oz/150ml glass.
White wine with low sugar content
1. Sauvignon Blanc - This classic wine has the lowest sugar of all of the dry white wines. It comes in at around 3.75g of sugar per bottle and 0.75g of sugar per glass. Depending on how low you are trying to stay, you might be able to fit in two glasses!
2. Chardonnay - Another popular white wine, this one has on average about 4.5g of sugar per bottle, or 0.9g of sugar per glass. This makes it a great choice, and try to go for a French or Californian bottle to make sure you get great quality.
3. Champagne, Prosecco and Pinots - These white wines all tie for 3rd place, with almost 5g of sugar per bottle and 1g per glass. There is a lot of variety to choose from here, as it includes Pinot Grigio, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc which are all classic dinner wines. You can rest easy knowing that a glass of Champagne or Prosecco at a party won't push you over your sugar budget.
So now it's time for the naughty list. You definitely want to avoid these white wines if you are trying to limit your sugar intake as they all have high sugar content.
1. White Sangria - This is one of the highest sugar white wines you can purchase on the market. Although the sugar in sangria will vary depending on the recipe, most have around 30g of sugar per bottle and 6g per glass. This can be much higher if the recipe calls for sugar to be added. Avoid this one at all costs!
2. White Moscato - A classic desert wine like Moscato was never going to do well on this list. On average, it comes it at 10g per bottle and 2g of sugar per glass. Although it is a lot lower in sugar than sangria, it it still not recommended in comparison to the white wines on the good list.
3. Ros and White Zinfandel - Another two popular white wines, but unfortunately still high in sugar. They roughly have 7.5g of sugar per bottle and 1.5g per glass. It's best to avoid these and stick to the Sauvignon Blanc!
Just while we're here, it goes without saying that you should be avoiding wine coolers and frozen wine pops. These are absolutely full of sugar - with well over 30g of sugar for a small wine cooler can or frozen ros pop - and drinking either of these would be a disaster for a low sugar diet - it's is almost the same amount of sugar in a can of Coke, which has 39g.
For that same amount of sugar, you could have 52 glasses of Sauvignon Blanc or 43 glasses of Chardonnay! Though, I don't think that much wine would be a good idea...
How many calories are there in white wine?
You might also find it handy to know how many calories there are in a bottle or a glass of your favourite white wine. the calories in white wine come from the carbohydrates (sugars) and the alcohol itself.
For example our low sugar Sauvignon Blanc comes in at 118 calories per glass or 590 calories per bottle. Chardonnay comes in at 123 calories per glass or 615 calories per bottle.
The bottom line
In summary, stick to the dry whites and make sure you get a good brand that won't have snuck in extra sugar - sometimes you really do get what you pay for.