It’s common knowledge that wine (and most alcohol) contains sugar, but do you know how much sugar is actually in a glass of vino?
The interesting thing about wine is that it’s different from other beverage products in that it has more natural sugar (thanks to the grapes), while most other food and beverage products obtain their sweetness from refined sugars and artificial sweeteners.
Sugar levels in liquid products are usually stated in terms of grams per litre, commonly shown in abbreviated form as g/L.
In wines, this is a measurement of how much of the natural sugar from the grapes remains after the fermentation process is completed, either naturally or through deliberate intervention by the winemaker.
These sugar levels can commonly vary from as low as 2 g/L to levels in the hundreds for very sweet wines.
If the sugar level in a bottle of wine is not readily available, then a useful rule of thumb is that the lower the alcohol level, the higher the sugar level will be (since that residual sugar has not been converted to alcohol).
While there are no universally recognized classifications, “very dry” or “extra dry” red and white table wines contain 4 g/L or less of residual sugar. “Dry” wines fall into the range of 2 g/L to 10 g/L of sugar.
Wines with between 11 g/L and 29 g/L of residual sugar are referred to as “off dry”, while those with levels in excess of 30 g/L are referred to as “sweet.”
It is quite common for a wine to have a “sweet” taste because it is fruity, yet still be low in actual residual sugar.
So, how does wine stack up to other categories of popular beverages? Here are the approximate sugar content levels for some of them:
Coca Cola 110 g/L
Energy Drinks 105 g/L
Sports Drinks 60 g/L
Milk 50 g/L
Diabetics and those who need or want to watch their sugar intake are usually recommended to drink wines that have sugar levels of 4 g/L or less. Even the often-stringent keto diets acknowledge that wines with low sugar content can be a part of everyday life.
With respect to diabetes and wine, many highly respected medical experts are now saying that a modest consumption of wine may be beneficial.
Dr. Susan Williams, a medical practitioner at the Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism Institute at the renowned Cleveland Clinic, has said:
“Articles have even published highlighting research demonstrating that modest consumption of wine - and even tea and cocoa - may have a protective effect in the development of diabetes. Flavanols, naturally occurring polyphenolic compounds [found in these food items], have become important potential preventative agents.”
The good news is, low-sugar wines are not hard to find, and there are several excellent readily available wines of various prices with a sugar content of 4 g/L or less.
Our new pocket guide, What Wines When, lists sugar content levels for every recommended including 48 which have 4 g/L or less residual sugar. Get your guide today for a full list of the top 200 value wines under $20.