All year long you “cheers” to birthdays, holidays and special achievements. If you’re trying to lose weight or live a healthier lifestyle, you’re probably wondering what “healthy” alcoholic drink options are out there for these celebrations. To help you have fun without sabotaging your fitness and nutrition goals, we selected our favorite low-calorie alcoholic drinks to enjoy while dieting.
Keep in mind that just because these drinks are healthier, low-calorie options doesn’t mean they should be enjoyed in unlimited amounts. Calories from alcoholic drinks add up quickly without providing much nutritional benefit.
- How to Drink While Dieting – general drinking tips
- Your Party Guide to Diet-Friendly Drinks
- Wine: The Most Diet-Friendly Choice
- Hard Liquor: Easy on Your Diet
- Beer: Raise Your Glass with Care
- Liqueur: Small but Potent
- Low-Calorie Wine Brands
- Calories in Red Wine
- Calories in White, Sparkling, and Rosé Wine
- Low-Calorie Wine Tips
- Enjoy Without the Guilt
- Best low calorie wines
How to Drink While Dieting – general drinking tips
Overindulging in alcohol dehydrates our bodies and often results in a nasty hangover. To feel amazing the morning after a fun night out, follow our five tips.
1. Add an extra cup of water for every alcoholic beverage
Have you ever noticed how thirsty you are after a night of drinking? Alcohol can dehydrate us and even mild dehydration can negatively impact our mental and physical performance. In addition to your normal daily water intake, drink an extra cup of water after each alcoholic beverage.
2. Know your limits
More alcohol means more calories and calories from alcoholic beverages lack the nutritional benefits we get from food calories. Enjoy your beverage slowly and focus on moderation to limit calories and that next-day hangover. Remember that moderation for men typically means less than 2 bottles of beer or 2 glasses of wine, but for women, it’s half the amount.
3. Have it neat or on the rocks
Skip the sugary mixers and juices. Instead, ask for your favorite liquor neat or on the rocks.
4. Add natural freshness
Get creative and add something fresh — lemon, lime, mint, basil, cucumber or berries — to your drink. Citrus, herbs, and fruits make liquor and wine taste amazing without adding extra calories or sugar.
5. Don’t drink on an empty stomach
Always fill up on food before filling up on alcohol. Drinking on an empty stomach makes you feel intoxicated more quickly and that intoxication often leads to more drinking or mindless eating. Consume a healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner from your 8fit meal plan before a night out to slow the absorption of alcohol and encourage drinking in moderation.
Our favorite low-calorie alcoholic drinks
There are a few drinks we reach for during a night out. Try one of our favorites next time you’re celebrating.
Vodka: Our preferred low-calorie vodka drink only has 65 calories. Ingredients: 1 shot of vodka, a splash of mineral water, lime slices and crushed ice.
Wine: We like red wine because it has slightly higher vitamin and mineral content than white wine. Choose a dry wine for lower sugar content. One glass, regardless of whether it’s white or red, has around 120 calories. Ingredients: Your preferred high-quality red wine.
Champagne: The typical New Year’s Eve alcoholic drink or wedding beverage is also a low-calorie one. A glass of champagne typically has about 90 calories. Ingredients: Bubbly, sparkling champagne.
Mojito with extra lime: Make your mojito “healthier” by asking your server for a less sugary version. One glass of our concoction has about 130 calories. Ingredients: 1 shot of rum, lime juice, 1 tsp agave (or cane sugar), a splash of mineral water, lime slices, fresh mint leaves and crushed ice.
Cucumber gin martin: This refreshing alcoholic drink brings a little summer to cold, dark winter and only clocks in at 100 calories. Ingredients: 1 shot of gin, fresh cucumber slices, 1 tsp agave (or cane sugar), a touch of lemon juice and crushed ice.
If these low-calorie alcoholic drinks aren’t available, reach for a light beer, a bloody Mary, tequila with mineral water and lime, bourbon soda or a michelada. Kindly ask your server for more natural, less sugary options and don’t feel weird about it. In the end, it’s important to have fun and to not let your fitness or nutrition goals add stress.
Enjoy alcohol in moderation and have a happy, healthy holiday, wedding, graduation, birthday – all of it.
Your Party Guide to Diet-Friendly Drinks
A key to any successful lifestyle change is moderation. While you may be sticking to a healthier eating plan on most days, certain occasions call for a bit of relaxation, sometimes in the form of an alcoholic drink. While alcohol is fat-free and low in carbs, it’s the calories that count when it comes to weight management. In general, alcohol and dieting don’t mix well—your body processes alcohol first, leaving carbohydrates and fats to get stored as fat instead of getting used as fuel.
Even if you’re careful about your alcohol consumption, all drinks are not created equal on the dieting scale and some choices are better than others. Here’s a short guide to the calorie contents of different types of alcohol. Use it as a quick resource to find low-calorie alcohol choices while sticking to your dietary goals.
Wine: The Most Diet-Friendly Choice
If you’re going to drink, wine is the most calorie-friendly selection with a typical 20 calories per ounce. Each five-ounce glass would then be 100 calories with no cholesterol, sodium or fat. This is true for both red and white wine, from merlot to chardonnay. Sherry, a sweet, fortified wine, runs a bit higher with 32 calories per ounce, but is usually served in smaller portions as an after-dinner drink.
Here is the nutritional information for some popular wines:
|Wine||Calories Per Ounce||Carbs||Per 5-oz Serving|
|Chardonnay||20||0.4 g||100 calories,
2 g carbs
|Pinot Grigio||20||0.4 g||100 calories,
2 g carbs
|Zinfandel® White Wine||20||0.4 g||100 calories,
2 g carbs
|Cabernet Sauvignon||20||0.8 g||100 calories,
4 g carbs
|Merlot Red Wine||20||0.8 g||100 calories,
4 g carbs
Hard Liquor: Easy on Your Diet
Hard liquor is higher in calories per ounce than wine and is often mixed with soda, which increases the calorie count. If you’re going to drink liquor, use calorie-free mixers like diet soda or diet tonic water. One shot glass or mixed drink will contain about 1.5 ounces of hard liquor.
Here is the nutritional information for some favorites:
|Hard Liquor||Calories Per Ounce||Carbs||Per 1.5-oz Serving|
|Vermouth||32||0.2 g||64 calories, 0.4 g carbs|
|Coconut Rum||51||5.3 g||77 calories, 8 g carbs|
|Beefeater® Gin||65||0 g||98 calories, 0 g carbs|
|Rye Whiskey||69||0 g||104 calories, 0 g carbs|
|Scotch Whiskey||69||0 g||104 calories, 0 g carbs|
|White Rum||69||0 g||104 calories, 0 g carbs|
|Vodka||69||0 g||104 calories, 0 g carbs|
|Cognac||69||2 g||104 calories, 3 g carbs|
|Tequila||69||5.3 g||104 calories, 8 g carbs|
|Gilbey’s® Gin||79||0 g||119 calories, 0 g carbs|
Once you start mixing liquor with juice and other sweeteners to create cocktails, both calories and carbs can go up significantly.
Here is the nutritional information for some favorites:
|Cocktail||Calories Per Ounce||Carbs Per Ounce||Per Typical Serving|
|Whiskey Sour||46||3.9||162 calories/
|Piña Colada||55||7.1||245 calories/
Beer: Raise Your Glass with Care
Beer is the next best choice for dieters, with about 150 calories per 12-ounce serving. Choosing light beers will drop your caloric intake without sacrificing much flavor, but keep in mind that it can be hard to estimate your intake when pouring from a pitcher or into an oversized beer mug.
Here is the nutritional information for different types of beer:
|Beer||Calories Per Ounce||Carbs||Per 12-oz Serving|
|“Light” Beer||9||0.5 g||108 calories, 6 g carbs|
|Draft Beer||12||1.1 g||144 calories, 13.2 g carbs|
|Lager||14||1.1 g||168 calories, 13.2 g carbs|
|Ale||18||1.1 g||216 calories, 13.2 g carbs|
Liqueur: Small but Potent
The words “cordial” and “liqueur” are sometimes used interchangeably, as both drinks are flavored, very sweet and often served as (or with) dessert. Liqueurs can be served alone, over ice, with coffee or mixed with cream or other mixers. Adding mixers will increase the calorie and fat content of your drink. Whether served alone or in a cocktail, one liqueur serving is about 1.5 ounces. While tasty, liqueurs pack the most calories per ounce, so enjoy them sparingly.
Here is the nutritional information for common liqueurs:
|Liqueur||Calories Per Ounce||Carbs||Per 1.5-oz Serving|
|Chocolate Liqueur||103||11 g||155 calories,
17 g carbs
|Mint Liqueur||103||11 g||155 calories,
17 g carbs
|Peppermint Liqueur||103||11 g||155 calories,
17 g carbs
|Strawberry Liqueur||103||11 g||155 calories,
17 g carbs
If you budget your calories carefully, you can safely afford to have a drink or two on a special occasion. But beware: Drinking loosens your inhibitions and may make you eat without thinking. From a health standpoint, calories aren’t the only thing to consider. Practice moderation (no more than one drink daily for women and no more than two drinks daily for men) and consider other potential health benefits of different types of alcohol.
Most health experts recommend the following hierarchy when choosing alcohol based on potential health benefits (such as antioxidant content): Choose red wine over white wine; choose wine over beer; choose darker-colored beers over lighter-colored beers; and choose beer over liquor and liqueur.
Just how many calories are in that glass wine? You might be surprised to discover the truth.
(Associated Press File Photo)
January means many things to many people.
The start of a new year. The end of the holidays. The delight of ski season or the dread of facing more short, cold New England days. (Then again, that’s why night skiing was invented.)
And for many people, January means the beginning of many New Year’s resolutions. And right near the top of many people’s to-do lists each January is losing weight.
Every calorie suddenly counts.
Certain foods suddenly become foes instead of friends.
Ice cream, french fries and doughnuts often top the list of foods most people wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot fork in January or February.
But what about wine?
How many calories are there in a glass of wine?
And do certain wines have less calories than other wines?
The answer is yes. And which wines have less calories or more carbs may surprise you.
Wine might seem like a weight loss friendly drink, especially compared to beer. But you would be surprised by how many calories wine makers can cram into a 750 ml bottle.
Some bottles of wine contain 650 calories per bottle. That might not seem like a lot. But when most people only consume 2,000 to 2,700 calories per day, two glasses of wine can add up fast over the course of a meal.
Plus there’s the whole issue of how many glasses of wine there are in a bottle of wine. I was always taught there are four glasses of wine in each wine bottle. Since there are 25 ounces of wine in a bottle, that’s 6.25 ounces per glass. But the statistics about the number of calories per glass of wine compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture listed a glass of wine as 5 ounces.
A difference of 1.25 ounces might not seem like a big deal. But that small difference amounts to one extra glass per bottle if you’re only pouring 5 ounce glasses. And I can pretty much guarantee most restaurants know that and try to squeeze another glass out of every bottle – which is definitely something to keep in mind next time you’re trying to decide whether to order wine by the glass or by the bottle at a restaurant.
So if you do pour more generously at home, keep in mind that the number of calories per glass listed here are for 5 ounce glasses. If you want to pour yourself 6.25 ounce glasses, multiply the following numbers by 1.25 for a four-glass bottle instead of five-glass bottle.
So which wine has the most calories per glass? Turns out one of my recent recommendations and personal favorite red wines tops the calorie count for wines. According to the USDA, Monastrell wines contain 130 calories and 3.9 grams of carbohydrates per glass.
The same USDA web site states that “wine” has 123 calories per 5 ounce glass. But there are many more wines with more or less calories.
So to make things a little simpler, here’s a chart with some of the most popular grapes listed by the number of calories per 5 ounce glass, according to the USDA. The list starts with Monastrell and works its way down to the lowest calories wines.
- Monastrell – 130 calories
- Sangiovese – 126 calories
- Cabernet Franc – 123 calories
- Chardonnay – 123 calories
- Cabernet Sauvignon – 122 calories
- Merlot – 122 calories
- Pinot Grigio – 122 calories
- Syrah – 122 calories
- Grenache – 122 calories
- Pinot Noir – 120 calories
- Riesling – 120 calories
- Sauvignon Blanc – 120 calories
- Chenin Blanc – 118 calories
- Gewurztraminer – 118 calories
- Gamay – 114 calories
There’s also another wine, Muller Thurgau, that weighs in at 113 calories, but this white wine grown primarily in German and Austria isn’t exactly a widely known – or readily available – wine in most American wine stores, so all I’ll say is if you see it and you’re on a diet, go for it.
As for more readily available wines in America, fans of young red wine will surely be pleased to know that Beaujolais wine made from Gamay grapes isn’t a gut buster. In fact, there’s 14 percent fewer calories in a glass of Beaujolais versus a glass of Monastrell.
I was also pleasantly surprised to find two of my favorite white wines near the top of the list of low calorie wines: Gewurztraminer (there are many great, affordable ones from the Alsace region of France) and Chenin Blanc (the grape used to make many delicious, dry white wines from the Vouvray region of France)
Another dry white wine I adore, Riesling, didn’t surprise me since in my mind, drier wines must have less sugar in them and therefore have fewer calories.
What did come as a surprise to me was Pinot Noir. Here’s a big red wine that I was sure would have as many calories as Monastrell. And yet there are less than 10 calories per serving in a glass of Pinot Noir. Granted, 10 calories isn’t a lot. There are only 8.3 percent more calories in a glass of Monastrell versus a glass of Pinot Noir. But when every calorie counts, 8.3 percent adds up.
Then again, I’ll admit that I’m not sure I want to start picking my wine based on how many calories are in each glass. Once I start doing that, I might as well just drink a glass of water and not have any wine altogether. Because while 16 calories might seem like a big deal for some people, I’m happy to walk a few extra minutes on a treadmill if a certain wine tastes great and just happens to have a few extra calories. I stand by my friends, even if they’ve let things slide.
Maybe that’s why wine makers don’t even bother to list the number of calories on bottles of wine. Because they know deep down many of us don’t really want to know exactly how many calories are in our favorite wines. Wine’s more than just something we drink with dinner. It’s a beautiful expression of a particular region’s soul, it’s character, it’s rich, dark, warm earth.
If you are lowering your calorie intake, don’t pass on a night out with a friend when there are low-calorie wine options available. These wines will allow you to indulge without worrying about a ton of extra calories and without sacrificing taste.
Low-Calorie Wine Brands
Several wine makers have experimented with making lower calorie wines and marketing them as such. They harvest grapes when they are less mature so that they contain less sugar, which ultimately translates into a lower alcohol content and less residual sugar. These wine makers have also found that using grapes from cooler regions will result in a lower alcohol content.
- Fit Vine specializes in low-sugar wines, which keeps the calories down. Wines have around 100 calories per five ounce pour.
- So’ Light wines have lower alcohol content than other wines, making them lower in calories at about 65 calories per glass.
- Cense Wines has partnered with Weight Watchers to create a wine that fits within the Weight Watchers SmartPoints system. Each 5-ounce glass has around 85 calories or 3 Weight Watchers SmartPoints.
Calories in Red Wine
On average, a 5-ounce glass of dry red wine contains about 120 calories. Wines with higher sugar content or higher alcohol content tend to be higher in calories (alcohol has 7 calories per gram, sugar has 4 calories per gram). The drier the wine, the fewer calories it usually contains. For example, Cabernet Sauvignon is a relatively low-calorie red wine, while a slightly sweeter Chianti may contain a few more calories per glass. Some lower calorie reds include the following.
- Merlot – 118 calories
- Cabernet Sauvignon – 119 calories
- Burgundy/Pinot Noir – 122 calories
- Bordeaux – 118 calories
Higher alcohol wines, such as Zinfandel, have higher calorie counts. An average 5-ounce glass of Zinfandel, for example, has about 131 calories per glass. Red wine also offers many health benefits. It contains antioxidants, and studies have shown that it can help to prevent heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases. There has been a lot of buzz about resveratrol, which researchers at the Mayo Clinic have proven has heart-healthy benefits.
Calories in White, Sparkling, and Rosé Wine
The calories in dry white wine are similar to those in red, but slightly lower, and rosé wines or blush wines tend to be relatively low in calories unless it’s an off-dry or sweet rosé. A five ounce glass of white wine typically contains around 116 calories while a 5-ounce glass of rosé has around 105. Lighter, very dry white wines such as Sauvignon Blanc may contain even fewer, while Riesling, which is often sweet, may contain more. For comparison, Champagne contains around 124 calories per five ounce glass. Some low calorie whites to consider follow. Calories are for a 5-ounce pour.
- Chardonnay – 119
- Chablis – 108
- Sauvignon Blanc – 116
Low-Calorie Wine Tips
While buying a wine marketed as “low-calorie” may take out some of the guess work, they aren’t easy to find in restaurants, bars or your local liquor store. Instead, follow these strategies to choose the right type of wine, and drink smart to avoid taking in too many calories.
Opt for Dry, Low-Sugar Wines
Sugar concentration in the wine accounts for many of the wine’s calories. Therefore, you want to take steps to select low-sugar options.
- Avoid most wine coolers since they usually contain added sugar and are higher in calories.
- Dessert wines, sweet wines, late harvest wines, and ice wines are all higher in calories because of their higher sugar content, so these are best limited or avoided when cutting calories.
- Choose extra-brut sparkling wine, which is the driest version of the wine.
- If you’re a Riesling fan, choose dry Riesling (in Germany, this style is called kabinett), which will have fewer sugar calories.
- Avoid wines with terms that indicate higher sugar content, such as demi-sec, off-dry, doux, amabile, passito, dolce, vin santo, semisecco, halbtrocken, auslese, spätlese, and medium-dry.
- Avoid wines such as Moscato d’Asti, Muscat Canelli, Moscato, Vouvray, Muscadine, Sauternes, Barsac, Tokaji, and eiswein. These are all sweet wines that are high in sugar and thus higher in calories.
- Fruit wines also tend to be higher in sugar to maintain some of the sweetness of the fruit and are therefore higher in calories.
Keep an Eye on Alcohol Content
Alcohol has 7 calories per gram, so higher alcohol wines are higher in calories.
- Steer clear of fortified wines such as Port or Sherry. These wines tend to have higher alcohol content due to fortification, and they may also have higher sugar content.
- High alcohol wines include Shiraz and Zinfandel. Look for the alcohol by volume (ABV) listed on the label and choose those with ABV of 15% or lower.
Manage Wine Portions
As in other forms of calorie counting, portion control can help you keep calories low. The average pour of a glass of wine is about five ounces. If you’re wine tasting, a tasting pour is about 3 ounces.
- Drink from small wine glasses. You will be likely to pour and consume less wine than you would from a large glass.
- Make a wine spritzer by filling a glass half full with wine and half club soda over ice. You’ll cut the calories in half!
- Limit yourself to one glass of wine with a meal. If you are out with friends, alternate a glass of wine with a glass of water to stay hydrated and lower your intake.
When in Doubt, Do More Research
Don’t be afraid to ask. You can contact the winemaker directly or, if you’re in a wine shop, ask the proprietor for some great low-calorie options.
Enjoy Without the Guilt
If you are counting calories and still want an occasional glass of wine, consider one that is lower in calories. You can also reduce the portion size so you still enjoy one of your favorites but without all the calories.
Best low calorie wines
We’ve all been told the facts: wine is full of sugar. A glass of wine is akin to eating a doughnut/slice of chocolate cake/Mars Bar. In health terms it’s rogue, especially where waistlines are concerned. But wine is also for many people, myself included, one of life’s great joys.
The good news is – you can find delicious, low calorie wine. As a rule of thumb, the lower the alcohol content, the lower the calories. White wine tends to harbour fewer calories and sparkling wine or Champagne is usually the ‘skinniest’ of all.
We approached all of the wines on the list below with trepidation, expecting a subpar experience in the taste department. However, we were actually pleasantly surprised…
Our round-up includes red, white and rosé – some of which are in sparkling form. Keep reading to find out our favourite.
G. Tribaut Skinny Rose de Reserve Premier Cru NV
First off, this looks very posh. The label is fancy and traditional, with ‘SKINNY’ only featuring in small font.
But the reason we love this Premier Cru Champagne so much – made in the same village where Dom Perignon created his iconic Champagne – is because there are only 275 calories in the entire bottle, and it tastes nothing short of delicious.
With berry flavours, it’s light and tasty, yet the traditional ‘dosage’ of sugar (which usually goes into Champagne) has been left out. This makes it extra dry.
Oh, and it still has 12 per cent alcohol content. Happy days!
£42 | Finest Fizz | Buy it now
Thomson & Scott Skinny Grand Cru Rosé
It shares many of the same ingredients as its white counterpart but this is even better. This Champagne is a real treat. Dry and delicate, I took it to a housewarming party and no one could believe this was anything other than a ‘normal’ bottle of Champagne. (Don’t worry, they’re changing the label – gifting someone a ‘skinny’ Champagne seems at best insensitive and at worst, downright insulting!).
Remarkably, it didn’t deliver a hangover. A win-win situation in my view!
£55 | Thomson & Scott | Buy it now
With absolutely no sugar, this sparkling rosé is a summer’s dream. Perhaps best of all, it’s still between 10 and 11 per cent proof, so you’re not sacrificing alcohol content as well as calories.
Light in colour, light to drink, its bursting with fruity flavour. I had hoped the lack of sugar would make for a clearer head the morning after, and amazingly, it did.
£23.98 for two bottles | SlimLine Wine | Buy it now
Jacob’s Creek Aperitivo Spritz
This is a wild card. When I first saw it, I have to admit I was rather judgmental; I girded my loins in anticipation of a hostile assault on my taste buds. But no. This was a revelation!
OK, so it’s not wine-wine. It has sparkling white wine base, but it’s infused with blood orange and bitters. Poured over ice in tumblers, this drink has Aperol vibes and makes for a light cocktail great for long summer nights. And at only 8.5 per cent ABV you won’t get too sloshed either.
Launches in ASDA mid-June
Sumika Shiraz, 2017
With an alcohol content of just 8.5 per cent, this red wine is almost 40 per cent less potent than regular South African Shiraz. The calorie content is down by 30 per cent too, making this a really light alternative.
It’s slightly oaky, not too thin and the flavour has fruity depth; an unexpected yet welcome surprise. A great alternative to those heavier, boozier reds.
£45 for a case of six 750ml bottles | Marks & Spencer | Buy it now
Zero Frappato Syrah
Its label, featuring ‘Zero’ and a corset around an impossibly waspish waist, is the only thing that gives away this wine’s ‘diet drink’ credentials. With only 1.3 grams of sugar per bottle this is a super light Italian red wine made with 50 percent Frappato and 50 percent Syrah grapes.
We sampled this – as advised – chilled, and that made all the difference. Delicate but flavourful and at a decent 11.5 per cent proof, it’s not too virtuous either.
£8.80 | Veeno | Buy it now
Sumika Sauvignon Blanc, 2017
This is really good! It’s dry but leaves a subtle, fruity aftertaste. We couldn’t tell it was a light wine – it didn’t taste calorie-controlled. Unoaked, it has 30 per cent less calories than a typical South African Sauvignon Blanc, and at 37 per cent less alcohol, it’s only 8.5 per cent proof.
At £7.50 per bottle, it’s also reasonably priced. You won’t be embarrassed having this on your dining room table.
£45 for a case of six bottles | Marks & Spencer | Buy it now
Thomson & Scott Skinny Champagne Grand Cru Brut
I popped the cork on this with a few friends and didn’t tell them it was labelled ‘skinny’ (which it won’t be soon; Thomson & Scott are ditching the diet moniker). Tasting very much like a Moet, it was absolutely delicious, made from 70 per cent Pinot Noir and 30 per cent Chardonnay.
It’s not only low cal – 0.1g of sugar per litre – but it is also still 12 per cent ABV. So you still get an alcoholic hit, without all of those invisible calories. Best of all, no one knew it was ‘skinny’ either.
£50 | Thomson & Scott | Buy it now
Featherweight Pinot Grigio
Given that it costs peanuts, expectations here, were fairly low… However, I was pleasantly surprised by this light Pinot Grigio courtesy of Aldi. Not only does it taste refreshing and crisp, it also has only 55 calories per 125ml glass. That is roughly half the amount of other Pinot Grigios.
£2.99, Available in store only at Aldi
As annoying as it is when the expensive option comes out on top, the G. Tribaut Skinny Rose de Reserve Premier Cru NV won the day for me. It is delicious, dry and doesn’t taste like a ‘diet’ product in the slightest.
That said, don’t overlook the Jacob’s Creek.
ESBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.
Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter