Does Non Alcoholic Wine Have Less Calories? Belly busting.

One of the key benefits to a non alcoholic wine is that there should be less calories without the alcohol. This might be offset by additional sugar that can be added, so is it lower in calories overall?

Non alcoholic wines have on average 25-33% of the total calories alcoholic equivalents. The biggest difference is with red wines due to their higher alcohol content. The average 5 fl oz serving of 12% ABV red wine contains 125kcal versus 25-42kcal for non alcoholic wines.

Why does non alcoholic wine have less calories when it might have more sugar and is it still good for you and your diet. Im going to explore these topics below.

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Does non alcoholic wine have less calories? – Red

At this point it’s probably good to note that whilst everyone quotes “calories”, what they actually mean is “kilocalories” (kcal).

For the remainder of this article when i write calories i am referring to kilocalories (kcal).

Its also a good reminder that non alcoholic, dealcoholised and alcohol free do not all mean the same thing. It is best to read the label to see if the wine is <0.5% ABV or 0.0% ABV. For a full explanation and how to check, read my blog on the topic

The USDA quote a 5 fl oz serving of red wine (12% ABV) has 125 kcal. Thats a good generic reference point to start from.

Obviously there will be a huge variance in the wine world with different wine making processes, additives and alcohol contents but it acts as a good surrogate for comparison.

If we look at some of the best selling red wines from around the globe and compare them to the USDA standard it should give a general feel for the calorie difference.

Wine comparisons

Ive chosen 4 wines from different part of the world for comparison in various factors throughout this article. They also have two different alcohol by volume concentrations.

  • Ariel Cab Sav <0.5% – San Jose, California
  • Ariel Merlot <0.5% – San Jose, California
  • Pierre Chavin Prestige Merlot 0.0% – France
  • McGuigan Zero Shiraz 0.0% – Australia

Let’s have a look at the calorie count of these 4 wines vs standard wine and the % calories difference.

WineKcal count per 5 fl oz% of calories % of calories saved
Standard USDA red wine 12% ABV125100%0%
Ariel Cab Sav <0.5% ABV3226%74%
Ariel Merlot <0.5% ABV2520%80%
Pierre Chavin Prestige Merlot 0.0% ABV2822%78%
McGuigan Zero Shiraz 0.0% ABV4234%66%
Non alcoholic wine comparison – red

As you can see from above, there is a huge difference. The calorie saving drinking a glass of alcohol free or non alcoholic red wine can be up to 80%.

This is a huge factor in many wanting to try or make the switch from alcoholic wine to non alcoholic wine.

Does non alcoholic wine have less calories? – White

The USDA state the average calories in a 5 fl oz serving of white wine (sauvignon blanc) is 118 kcal. Lets again repeat the process with 4 more white wines from the same vineyards

  • Ariel Chardonnay
  • Ariel White Zinfandel
  • Pierre Chavin Zero Chardonnay
  • McGuigan Zero Sauvignon Blanc
Winekcal count per 5 fl oz% of calories% of calories saved
Standard USDA white (Sav blanc)118100%0%
Ariel Chardonnay <0.5%3227%73%
Ariel White Zinfandel <0.5%4437%63%
Pierre Zero Chardonnay 0.0%3126%74%
McGuigan Zero Sav Blanc 0.0%3530%70%
Non alcoholic wine comparison – white

The whites still offer a large reduction but a little smaller than the reds. This might be the lower starting point of alcoholic white or maybe more sugar added to the non alcoholic whites. Something to come back to later.

Ive also chosen to use Sauvignon Blanc which would be drier so less sugar.

Does non alcoholic wine have less calories? – Sparkling

I know the serving of a glass of sparkling wine will not be 5 fl oz but we will keep it as that for read through comparison. Sparkling wine can vary widely if it’s sweet or dry. If we go for another US standard, this time from

I know the serving of a glass of sparkling wine will not be 5 fl oz but we will keep it as that for read through comparison. Sparkling wine can vary widely if it’s sweet or dry.

If we go for another US standard, this time from NIAAA, a 5fl oz serving of sparkling wine will have 105 kcal. I’ll also use a glass of Moët & Chandon Champagne at 122kcal in the table.

The wines to compare

  • Moët & Chandon Champagne
  • Ariel Brut Cuvee <0.5%
  • Pierre Zero Blanc Chardonnay Sparkling 0.0%
  • McGuigan Zero Sparkling 0.0%
Winekcal count per 5 fl oz% of calories% of calories saved
NIAAA standard Sparkling105100%0%
Moet and Chandon122116%-16%
ArielBrut Cuvee <0.5%4038%62%
Pierre Zero Chardonnay Sparkling 0.0%3129%71%
McGuigan Zero Sparkling 0.0%4947%53%
Non alcoholic wine comparison – sparkling

There tends to be a trend of the sparkling wines not having the same calorie saving. This may be from an artificially low standard vs most champagnes and sparkling wines or that the non alcoholic sparkling wines need more sugar.

Why should we care about reduced calories?

Se we’ve seen there are huge calorie savings to be made switching to a non alcoholic wine. The next question is why is this good, how is this a benefit to you?

A pound of fat is anywhere from 3,436 to 3,752 calories. That is the amount of calories you have to be deficit to lose a pound of fat from your body.

A usually target for diets is to have a daily calorie deficit of 500kcal to total up to 3500-3600kcal in a week. That would be roughly equal to losing a pound of fat.

Food or beverageKcal count
4 glasses of regular red wine500 kcal
4 glasses of Pierre Merlot100 kcal
100g donut with chocolate 452 kcal
2 Mars Bars460 kcal
Calorie in wine and food

In the table above you can see the calories in 4 glasses of wine is more than 2 chocolate bars or 100g chocolate donut. This highlights just how many easy calories you can drink.

Over the course of 9 weeks, if you were to drink x4 glasses of red wine a week vs x4 of alcohol free (Pierre Merlot), then you would be a full pound heavier. You would have a pound of fat extra on your body.

Are non alcoholic wines just full of sugar?

There has been some really nasty non alcoholic wines in the past. The original, non fermented ones, were packed with sugar but the modern dealcoholised post fermentation ones are less so.

Some use stevia instead of sugar for added sweetness with no calories.

Non alcoholic wines contain a higher sugar content than regular wines. The average non alcoholic red wine has just under a teaspoon more of sugar per 5 fl oz standard drink measure. This equates to roughly 5g or more more added sugar per glass than the 0.9g UDSA standard red wine.

The best way to check is to run our comparisons again…

WineSugar per 5 fl ozincrease in sugar (g)% increase
Standard USDA red wine 12% ABV0.9g
Ariel Cab Sav <0.5% ABV6.1g5.2g578%
Ariel Merlot <0.5% ABV5.8g4.9g544%
Pierre Chavin Prestige Merlot 0.0% ABV6.3g5.4g600%
McGuigan Zero Shiraz 0.0% ABV6.6g5.7g633%
Non alcoholic wine sugar comparison – red

Well those results are certainly telling. There is a lot more sugar content in non alcoholic red wine than regular red wine, despite the large calorie saving.

For context, 1 teaspoon = 5.7g. So most of these wine has an extra teaspoon of sugar per glass.

The USDA lists white wine as having 1.4g of sugar per 5 fl oz.

WineSugar per 5 fl ozincrease in sugar (g)% increase
Standard USDA white1.4g
Ariel Chardonnay <0.5%5.6g4.2g300%
Ariel White Zinfandel <0.5%8.7g7.3g521%
Pierre Zero Chardonnay 0.0%6.6g4.2g371%
McGuigan Zero Sav Blanc 0.0%6.2g3.8g342%
Non alcoholic wine sugar comparison – White

Again these are a bit surprising. The Ariel White Zinfandel (rose) has the highest sugar content but the average overall increase in sugar and % increases are lower than for the reds.

This is because alcoholic white wine has a higher sugar content to begin with so the differences aren’t as extreme as the reds. What about the sparkling wines?

I can’t seems to find a good generic standard for sparkling wine so i’ve just used a Walmart Prosecco and the Moet again.

WineSugar per 5 fl oz
La Marca Prosecco Sparkling Wine 2.5g
Moet and Chandon1.47g
ArielBrut Cuvee <0.5%5g
Pierre Zero Chardonnay Sparkling 0.0%6.6g
McGuigan Zero Sparkling 0.0%9.8g
Non alcoholic wine sugar comparison – Sparkling

This is more of a difficult comparison and champagne/sparkling wine has a large variation in residual sugar content.

Depending on what type of brut the non alcoholic wine is trying to mimic, there will be differing sugar content. However as you can see, the McGuigan Zero Sparkling has nearly 10g of sugar per 5 fl oz serving and will be sweet.

How can more sugar mean fewer calories?

So non alcoholic wines have more sugar but fewer calories, how is this?! The answer is alcohol is calorie dense. A gram of alcohol has nearly 7 kcal, which is nearly as much as a gram of fat.

A 5 fl oz glass of 12% red wine will have most of its calories coming from the alcohol and not nearly as much from the sugar.

SubstanceKCal per gram
Calories per gram

Alcohol is even much more calorie dense than sugar. So the reduction in alcohol more than offsets the increase in sugar in terms of calories.

Is non alcoholic wine less fattening?

Many factors go into if you will gain weight but i’ll generalise here. Alcohol is itself calorie dense and we have shown there is a huge reduction in calories if you switch to non alcoholic wines.

You would take in less calories for a given volume and have a relative calorie deficit and be a lower weight drinking non alcoholic vs alcoholic.

The alcohol also acts in other ways in the gut. It can slow metabolism and slow food transit through the gut.

This can lead you to absorbing more calories from food and burning less calories, further exacerbating the calorie difference. Add in when you drink alcohol you tend to eat more unhealthy food anyway!

In general, non alcoholic wines are less fattening than regular wines. They contain around 25-33% of the calories and don’t have the metabolism slowing effects of alcohol which further exacerbates the calorie difference. This means you have less free energy to convert to fat.

Are non alcoholic wines good for a weight loss diet?

Ok, so non alcoholic wines have less calories, more sugar but are less fattening. Does that mean they are good if you are trying to lose weight or on a diet?

I think the answer is yes! If you want to have a drink of wine but are willing to substitute it for a non alcoholic alternative you will be saving a lot of calories which over time can add up to pounds of fat saved or lost.

Is non alcoholic wine good for you?

Well as proven above, they are good for weight loss and to reduce your alcohol and calorie intake but are they good in any other way?

This is a large topic and i’ve covered it in detail here. Ive gone into detail on the antioxidant and other benefits of non alcoholic wine

Alcohol free red wine retains the specific polyphenol antioxidant called resveratol when it is dealcoholised from fermented grapes.

This means it has all the added heart health benefits of alcoholic red wine, such a lowering of blood pressure and reduction in coronary artery disease, without the adverse affects of alcohol.

The antioxidants in wine are called polyphenols. In particular one called resveratrol has been the focus of research for its ability to protect us against heart disease.

The thinking is resveratrol may do this by reducing the amount of bad cholesterol in the blood, preventing some blood clotting and preventing damage to blood vessel walls. 

A major study in a Cardiology journal was called “Significance of wine and resveratrol in cardiovascular disease: French paradox revisited”.

The French paradox is the fact the population eat quite a high fat diet but have a very low level of heart disease. Moderate consumption of red wine is often cited as the reason for this disparity.

The dealcoholisation only removes the alcohol and leaves all the resveratrol in the wine. This means you can enjoy all the heart health benefits without any of the negative affects of alcohol.

The same study also highlights an anti cancer property of red wine. The antioxidant, resveratol, scavenges the superoxide free radicals that are produced in your body.

They whizz around and can damage DNA in cells that can lead to cancers. The study found a 57% reduction in lung cancer and a 50% reduction in prostate cancer, which isn’t bad in anyones book.

Aside from protecting you from cancer and heart disease, the polyphenols in red wine can also help improve your gut micro bacteria. This is very in vogue with lots of faddy diets and foods trying to replicate this result and regular your gut bacteria. However there is real benefit.

For a full 13 reasons why non alcoholic wine deserves a try, you can read my blog by following this link

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