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Losing it with wine units, abv and calories?

There is an on-going current debate whether wine producers should put the amount of calories on the label. This discussion has a lot of controversy about it: who will certify those calories, how to compare it with other foods and whether we are better to stick with units.

Let’s get to the bottom of units, abv, and what’s currently on the wine labels so it is actually all clear what is in that bottle of wine that we are to blame!

One unit of alcohol is a measure of 10ml of alcohol (or alcohol by volume) or, if grams are a bit easier to understand, 8 grams of pure alcohol. When it comes to calories, 100 ml of your average red wine will ‘cost’ you 75 cal, so a large 250 ml glass will set you back by 190 cal. There are no carbs, fat or proteins in wine (just a trace), so all these calories derive purely from alcohol. Shocker!

There are many books written about calories, diets and how to keep track of all that, so this post is not about it. Yet I want to explore how this alcoholic strength, that is featured prominently on every wine bottle, affects your recommended daily or weekly consumption, set by Government and drinkaware.co.uk.

First of all, the boring bit – women are advised not to exceed 2-3 units of alcohol per day and men not to consume more than 4 units. (January 2016 update: guideline limits for men are reduced to 14 units per week, see more on our Forum)

Many organic, biodynamic and, increasingly, natural wines are lower in alcohol than conventional wines. Not necessarily so, but there is a general trend. Always check the label, but in a nutshell you should be better off if seeking organic produce. Another proof of how this mindful approach to wines is healthy!
Let’s check about how much it influences your daily recommended dose then. I initially wanted to call this post 12% vs 15%, hence the experiment is about the wine’s low and high extremes in alcohol.
So on a lower end of 12% abv, 3 units tops for women mean they can consume 250 ml of wine, which is exactly 2 small glasses (just to be sure, a small glass is 125ml!); and men can get 2.5 of those (or exactly 333 ml if you want to squeeze the last drops in).
On the top range of 15%, not unusual for my beloved Priorat region and many examples in the New World, the same guidelines would mean women can get only 200 ml of wine and men 267 ml, which means just over 2 small glasses.
It may look like a small difference – 66 ml of wine for men, but on a weekly basis it means a whopping 462 ml, so that is a carafe of wine you can safely add to your dinners or parties with friends and family in one given week.

To conclude, I just want to reiterate that this simple math is not a stimulus to drink all allowance at once. Wine can be beneficial to your health (for your heart, blood and other benefits) when consumed in moderation. Two glasses a day are awesome, not the whole weekly allowance on a given day!

The numbers are quite average and rounded up, so for one person due to the weight, genetics and personal health issues these can vary. Please do not consume these amounts ‘just because you can’.
Alcohol also harms your stomach lining (not just your liver), so do not forget to have something to eat first, have a glass of water per each glass of wine and have a closer look at the wine label: drink organic if possible and go for lower alcohol wines to minimise your intake of alcohol toxins.

Other than that, enjoy and please do share your wine reviews with I Blame The Wine.

Cheers!

About The Author

Dimitri

Dimitri is passionate about wines, food to go with it, happy & healthy lifestyle, digital marketing, start-ups and entrepreneurship. www.IBlameTheWine.com is about new organic wines in the UK, what to buy or avoid on the retailer shelves; tips on healthy and happy wine lifestyle, but also provides reviews and rankings for organic wines. Get in touch please, I am always on a lookout for new ideas and connections! Cheers.

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