Pour some sugar on me, in a glass of wine. Or however that song goes.
You, oh wine connoisseur, are on a journey to get some answers. Maybe you've already asked "does wine freeze?" or "is wine acidic?" and now you're seeking even more knowledge. Or perhaps you're looking into it for health reasons. Fret not, we'll share our knowledge with you.
We can give you a definitive answer on if there's sugar in wine. Unfortunately, few winemakers provide nutritional labels regarding the amount, but we’ll help you understand. In the end, the question of wine sugar content is less about if there's sugar and more about how much. This is a complicated issue with many variables. We've put together a guide below to help you better understand some causes of sugar in wine and why the sugar content can vary. These rely both on the amount you drink and the type of wine.
Is There Sugar in Wine?
Yes, sugar can be found in all wines. From reds to whites to cooking wine and everything in between, there is definitely some amount of sugar to be found. It is the type of wine and winemaker that will determine just how much.
Wine is made from grapes, which naturally contain sugar. To achieve the sweet nectar we call wine, these grapes must be fermented. This is a process through which cultured yeast is added and the natural sugars are broken down into alcohol. It's a bit more complicated than that, but this is the general process. Any sugars that aren't converted in the process are called residual sugars. These are the reason the wine you're drinking contains some sugar, but less than if you ate the grapes it was made from. Aged wine will also have less sugar since tit has had more time for fermentation.
Depending on the desired sweetness, winemakers may also add sugar after fermentation. This is particularly true in the US, where the market for sweets is higher. This is also why there tend to be higher calories in wine made in the US.
How Much Sugar Is in a Glass Of Wine?
A single glass of wine can contain anywhere from 1 gram of sugar to 8 grams depending on wine varietal. Red, whites, and dessert wines all have varying levels of sweetness and quantities of sugar. Higher sugar content also lends itself to a lower wine alcohol content. We'll better outline the amounts of red and white wines below. You can safely assume that red wine has the least sugar, then white, then dessert. Dessert wine is so sugary that it contains nearly 16x the amount of a comparable glass of red and 8x a glass of white. It's called dessert for a reason.
So, what does this all mean for a glass of wine? The American Heart Association says that consumption of sugar should be limited to 25 grams per day for women and 36 for men. A single glass of wine isn't likely to be an issue unless you have further restrictions based on diet or health needs. We'll break out the sugar in wine numbers more below.
How Much Sugar in a Bottle Of Wine?
The amount of sugar in a bottle of wine can vary from as little as 4 grams to as much as 58 grams. We'll be sticking to the standard 750ml bottles for all of our calculations, but feel free to buy the biggest bottle you want. The average bottle contains between four and five glasses worth of wine if you’re drinking six ounce pours.
Of course, the type of wine matters here as well. This is a very big spread and shows that you should think about what you're drinking. We advise not to drink an entire bottle of dessert wine unless you want 2x the daily recommendation of sugar. Bottle shock in wine also doesn't affect the sugar content, so don't worry about that.
Most winemakers don't explicitly list the sugar content of their wine. It's still a good idea when shopping to look for a label on the bottle. With the growth of healthier lifestyles in the US and abroad, these labels should begin appearing more often. This can help you make more informed decisions about the content of your wine.
The data below contains only estimates, but should be fairly close to what you're drinking.
How Much Sugar in Red Wine?
Red wine can contain as little as 1 gram of sugar depending on the brand and amount you're consuming. This wine is source of inspiration for the UB40 song you hear at every wedding and one of the most enjoyed drinks worldwide. Let's first discuss what makes a wine red, so we can better understand the sugar content.
Red wine is made using darker grapes, usually dark red or even black. During the fermentation process, the skin is left on the grapes. This skin leaves a bitter tasting compound called tannins in wine. It also causes the wine to have a deep red color and is the reason red wine tends to have more health benefits. The wine is rich in antioxidants and is linked with lower cholesterol, heart health, and even increased mental function. It's also why the sugar content is lower among reds than any other wine.
The beautiful deep color of red wine can also cause some headaches, both literal and figurative in the form of stains. That's why we've put together a guide on how to remove red wine stains and sought out the best wine stain removers for you.
How Much Sugar in a Glass of Red Wine?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture claims that the average six-ounce glass of red wine contains about 1.12 grams of sugar. That's hardly a large amount of sugar when you look at it. A glass of soda the same size would net you about 12 grams of sugar. In the world of wine, reds are the most recommended by doctors and have the lowest sugar content of all wines.
If you're concerned about sugar intake, red wine may be the way to go. You can also easily keep track of your wine (and sugar) intake if you drink out of wine glasses with pour lines.
How Much Sugar in a Bottle of Red Wine?
A bottle of red wine contains about 4.64 grams of sugar according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This is still only about 1/5th to 1/9th the daily recommended amount.
Red wine's benefits clearly outweigh its sugar content. Even drinking a full bottle of wine would give you only 1/3rd the amount of sugar in a single glass of soda. We can't say the same about the alcohol content though. Make sure to also pick up one of the best wine aerators or best wine decanters on the market to maximize your drinking enjoyment.
How Much Sugar in White Wine?
White wine can have as little as 1.5 grams of sugar, again dependent on the brand and amount you're drinking. White wine is the lighter, crisper, sweeter wine. You likely began your journey as a wine drinker with a glass of white wine. It is the most accessible wine, and thanks to its sweeter flavor profile, more sugary. This isn't a negative thing in itself, but white wine also lacks some other benefits of red wine. Why? Fermentation.
White wine is made from white grapes. How surprising! Unlike red wine, these grapes are peeled prior to the fermentation process. This means that the antioxidant and other benefits associated with grape skins are less pronounced. Don't confuse antioxidants with oxidation, though. Oxidized wine still has the same properties as normal wine. Removing the skin also means that white wine is lower in calories and alcohol content.
It's a mixed bag in regard to benefits, but what about the sugar in wine?
How Much Sugar in a Glass of White Wine?
Again, the trusty Department of Agriculture can help us out. They say the average six-ounce glass of white wine contains about 1.73 grams of sugar. That's 0.61 grams or 64% more sugar than a glass of red wine.
Does this mean that you shouldn't drink a glass of white wine? Of course not. White wine may have more sugar than a red, but a glass is still only about 1/14th to 1/20th of your recommended intake. Like most things, this means that moderation is good. You can help this by avoiding over pouring your wine and sticking to a standard wine pour. A glass of white wine a day may also have some health benefits, just less than red.
How Much Sugar in a Bottle of White Wine?
A bottle of white wine contains about 7.2 grams of sugar. A single Reese's Peanut Butter Cup has 10.5 grams of sugar. If you drank two bottles of white wine (for science's sake) you'd still consume less sugar than if you ate a single pack of Peanut Butter Cups. That puts a whole new spin on Trick-or-Treat.
The sugar in wine is lower than you'd find in most beverages and snacks that we consume on a daily basis. Even a whole bottle of white comes in lower than many. So, don't fret that it's more than a red if you prefer white. Sugar is just one of many ingredients and qualities that you should look at when evaluating a wine. Just make sure you adhere to the proper white wine storage temperature or you'll waste that sugary treat.
Do You Have a Sugar High Now?
We know this can be a lot to take in, and we hope we didn't ruin wine for you. Just remember, drinking wine should be a relaxing and enjoyable process. The sugar in wine is much lower than many other drinks and shouldn't keep you from partaking responsibly. Also, red wine has many additional health benefits and even most whites have a fairly low amount of sugar in them.
Continue your journey through wine and seek out more answers. You can always pick up one of the best books to learn about wine. If you want to know how to pour wine or how to open a wine bottle, we can help you with that too.