If you are a working adult, a glass of your favourite wine might be a special ritual between a long, hard day at the office and a relaxing evening at home. For others, it is a drink of celebration that is enjoyed at festivities with friends.
Some true wine enthusiasts will delve deep into the technical side of things and accumulate a rich knowledge of grape varieties and growing regions.
Simply put, people love wine.
In the last few years, we have witnessed a rapidly increasing interest in low sugar wines. The sudden rise of this trend can likely be attributed to a general global awakening surrounding health and the more specific move to significantly reduce the quantity of carbohydrates or sugars in our diet.
Upon seeing the term ‘low sugar wines,’ many have been confused by the fact that wine would contain any amount of sugar to begin with.
We are going to unpack the implications of this fast-rising fad.
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What is Low Sugar Wine?
Low sugar wine is, in short, wine that has a minimal residual sugar content. The sweetness percentage is, in fact, so low that when you frequently consume a moderate quantity of wine, you are still right on track to eliminate carbohydrates – a form of sugar – from your diet.
The move towards low sugar wines is driven by health-conscious manifestos and a recognition of truly impressive wine-making processes.
How Much Sugar is in Wine?
The sweetness of a wine is, intuitively, indicative of its sugar content. Bearing this in mind, do not make the mistake of confusing sweetness with a fruit-based flavour. In order to measure the sugar content in a liquid solution, wine makers use the unit Brix. The fermentation process of wine is typically stopped when the wine is completely ‘dry’ and reads 0° Brix.
The sugar that remains, otherwise known as the residual sugar content, is typically between 1 and 3 grams per litre of dry wine. Store-bought beverages contain an average of 25 grams of sugar per litre. Hence, perspective is important.
At the end of the day, there really is no need to completely eliminate wine from your diet. If you consume the alcohol in moderation and do not exceed one serving daily, you can circumvent spiking your insulin output which would in turn lower your blood sugar levels and result in hypoglycaemia.
Why Does Wine Have Sugar?
We need to acknowledge the simple fact that every alcohol is derived from some form of sugar. While this sugar is an essential component of the wine-making process, it is not present in significant quantities in the final product. When you are drinking low sugar wine, the residual sugar content is negligible.
Grapes that are ripe enough to harvest are between 21 and 25 Brix. The fermentation process is catalysed by the addition of yeast to the harvested grapes. When this happens, the naturally-occurring sugars are converted into alcohol. The shorter the fermentation process, the greater the quantity of residual sugar. Longer fermentations yield lower sugar contents as well as higher alcohol percentages. Therefore, one can see that sugar is central to the wine-making process.
Is Sugar Added to Wine?
As has been established, sugar is integral to the wine-making, alcohol-producing process. Chaptalization is a term that refers to the process of adding sugar to grape juice during fermentation. Interestingly, this process is illegal in select winemaking regions and the addition of sugar during the fermentation process is indicative of a low-quality winemaker.
You might be initially inclined to believe that this is done with the intention of making the wine sweeter and thus it would not fall into the category of low sugar wines. This is, however, not necessarily the case. Chaptalization is an effective way of increasing the overall alcohol content of the wine as it permits a prolonged fermentation period.
A second dose of sugar may be added after the initial fermentation when the yeast is removed so as to facilitate the secondary fermentation of bottle-fermented sparkling wines.
Which Wines Have the Least Amount of Sugar?
When searing for a low sugar wine, the safest choice is always to opt for an excellent dry wine. With a sweetness level of less than one percent, the sugar content of these wines is minimal and will therefore not counter your carbohydrate-cutting endeavours. For some perspective, a semi-sweet wine will have a sugar content of roughly three percent.
Dry reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Shiraz as well as dry whites like Viognier, Pinot Grigio, and Chardonnay have very low residual sugar contents. If you are looking for low sugar wines of the sparkling variety, Brut contains roughly 2 grams of sugar per 5 ounces.
What’s the Best Wine for Diabetics?
Diabetics need to monitor their sugar consumption closely as the characterising feature of diabetes is the fact that the body struggles to effectively regulate sugar levels. Hence, the intake of large quantities of sugar is particularly harmful to diabetics. The kidneys are typically damaged the most in this process. Therefore, low sugar wines are preferable for diabetics as they do not interfere significantly with the body’s capacity to effectively metabolise sugar and manage insulin levels.
Is Pinot Grigio Low in Sugar?
In the world of wine, dramatically dry wines are referred to as ‘bone dry’. Italian Pinot Grigio, along with a good Cabernet Sauvignon, fall within this category. They boast an impressively low sugar content of less than 1.6 grams per 5-ounce serving.
Best Low Sugar Wines to Try
If a low sugar wine is what you’re after, we recommend giving any of these options a try:
- Liquid Light Sauvignon Blanc: The alcohol by volume (ABV) content of this wine is 12% and it boasts a carb-conscious content of a mere 3 grams.
- Forever Young: In June 2021, Bethany Frankel announced the release of her French-based ‘Forever Young’ low sugar wine. There has been much hype and excitement surrounding its release.
- Un’Sweet: California-harvested grapes are used in the production of this zero-sugar wine. It caters to those who aspire to live a completely sugar-free lifestyle.
- Cupcake Lighthearted Pinot Grigio: This California-based winemaker is widely renowned for the production of excellent wine that is sold at reasonable prices. In 2020, they released the Cupcake Lighthearted which contains less than one gram of sugar per 5 ounce serving of wine.
It’s easy to enjoy the fruit of the vine without the hefty dose of sugar. Cheers!