A Guide For The Allergy-Ridden Wine Lover – Part 1: The Sweet Factor

Allergic to wine? Headache every time you have a glass? I hear ya. Those nasty, but delicious, ingredients can wreak havoc.

Let’s keep this short. One allergy/sensitivity, at a time. (Do you lose interest when  there is tons of reading to do? Scroll and scroll? ugh! Maybe I’m not as committed as you.)

First, A Bit of Science

What determines sweetness?

Yeast eats up the natural sugar from the grapes, or whatever fruit you are fermenting. If the yeast eats ALL of the sugar, it will be a dry wine. If the fermentation is interrupted, usually by chilling, some sugar will remain and be considered a sweet wine.

Note: Watch out for those cheap wines that add grape concentrate!

Sugar Content

What’s with the headache, already!

Could be the sugar.

The next time you end up with one, check the label.

3g is considered a low sugar content
3g is considered a low sugar content


Your local liquor store displays the sugar content on the shelf label.

You can also google the liquor store site or the wine itself ahead of your purchase.

Psst: If you are also avoiding tannins, the Bourgogne Pinot Noir, pictured here, is aged in stainless steel vats- not oak barrels. Just sayin.

It might be easier to find low sugar in red wine than a white. But, they do exist. You don’t necessarily have to switch over to red but check labels and switch to a lower level of sugar content in your white. See if your head notices a difference.

Bone-Dry – 0 – 10 grams of sugar = Less than 1 calorie per glass

Dry – 0 – 10 grams of sugar = 0 to 6 calories per glass

Off-Dry – 10 – 35 grams of sugar = 6 to 21 calories per glass

Sweet – 35 – 120 grams of sugar = 21 to 72 calories per glass  ie: Moscato

Very Sweet – 120 -220 grams of sugar = 72 to 130 calories per glass ie: Icewine

Per glass = 5 ounces

Daily intake of calories per day

Women (moderately active): 2,000 to 2,200

Men (moderately active): 2,500 approx.

So, it’s a Friday evening and you’re out with friends for dinner. You’ve ordered the pasta primavera, chowed down on the complimentary salad and bread and washed it down with a glass of shiraz.

Calorie Count So Far: minimum 700 for food………120 for wine.

Someone just bought a round of vino for the table. Add on another 120 calories.

Did the guy next to you just say dessert? Damn. Another 200 calories if you chose the cheesecake!

Conversation is flowing and so is the wine. You order one more Shiraz. +120

An Irish Coffee would go REAL nice right about now. Squeeze in 87 calories.

What are we at? 1,347 calories.

Ladies, you have between 653 and 853 leftover. What did you have for breakfast and lunch?

Men, you have between a bit more space.

*Caloric examples are based on nutrition chart from East Side Mario’s.

I’m not trying to make you feel bad but if you’re wondering why you have a hard time shedding a few pounds, it could be that extra glass of wine or the high sugar content of your wine…..ahem, white wine lovers.

To help you minimize those calories, look for these wines:

Italian pinot grigio: Considered “bone-dry”, the residual sugar is less than 1 gram and less than 3 calories in a 5-ounce serving.

Cabernet Sauvignon: 3 grams, approx.

Rose: 7 grams, approx.

German Riesling: 14 grams approx.

Champagne: 12 grams approx.

Lakeview Icewine: 173g of sugar

Inniskillin Vidal is a whopping 256 grams!

The list could go on and on. When shopping, read the label. Remember, the staff is there to help.

Even the icewines contain sulphites so watch out for these as well. But that is for the next blog.

Please comment with your success on eliminating your headaches by switching to low sugar wines!

Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on March 2, 2018


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