Are There Carbs in Red Wine?
The answer is yes, but don't ban wine bottles just yet.
If you’re counting carbs, alcohol can seem off-limits. Red wine does have carbohydrates and if you're following a keto diet then you already know the daily carb allowance is strict — just about 30 grams per day (2 slices of white bread). While it’s always better to get your carbs from whole foods (like keto-approved fresh raspberries or strawberries), if you've budgeted correctly then you may have just enough room for a glass (or two) of your favorite red.
How many carbs are in a glass of red wine?
No, you can’t fill a flower vase and declare it a glass of wine. A single serving of wine is 5 to 6 ounces — a shorter pour than you might be used to. On average a 5-ounce glass of red wine has about 3.5 to 4 grams of carbs, depending on the variety of grapes and where they were grown.
Know your reds
Since having a glass of wine while on keto is a special allowance, it’s worth taking a moment to consider a few things first: If you're at a restaurant or bar, pay attention to the size of the wine pours — this will help you figure out how many carbs are about to go down the hatch. Staying in and splurging on a fancy bottle? Then make sure you have friends to share it with. Bottled wine usually only lasts 3 to 5 days, re-corked and stored in a cool, dark place. If you're less fussy about pretense and ceremony, then consider the newest generation of boxed red wines — some are quite good and can last up to 6 weeks at room temperature once opened.
Is Malbec your main jam? Consider switching up your red wine game and try a domestic Pinot Noir, which has fewer carbs per serving:
Carb counts by varietal (per 5 ounces)
- Pinot Noir: about 3.5 grams
- Shiraz/Syrah: just under 4 grams
- Cabernet Sauvignon: just under 4 grams
- Petit Sirah: 4 grams on the nose
- Malbec: 4 grams
- Zinfandel: just over 4 grams
Stick with dry red wine. Sweet varieties are rare, but do exist. Beware of the following words on the label (they are all code for sweet, which means more carbs per serving):
- Late harvest
- Ice wine
- Demi sec
- Semi sec
Try a red wine spritzer
Wine spritzers are fashionable once again because they're refreshing and low on alcohol (meaning also lower in carbs). While more common with chilled white wine, red can totally make a pretty, rose-colored cocktail:
Pour 2 to 3 ounces of your favorite dry red wine over ice and top with your favorite flavored seltzer or club soda. Drop in a couple fresh raspberries and a few fresh mint leaves.
Red wine alternatives
Instead of wine, consider spirits like bourbon, gin, rum, scotch, tequila, vodka and whiskey. They have zero carbs but DO have calories, which all come from alcohol (7 calories per gram). Watch out for mixers like tonic, simple syrup and sour mix — they're all loaded with carbs. Drink your spirits straight up (neat or over ice) or add a splash of seltzer or club soda and a twist of citrus.
Remember to more drink water
Keto means a diet high in fat (about 70%), moderate in protein (about 25%) and low in carbs (about 5%). That extra load of fat and protein means more work for your liver and kidneys, so drinking plenty of water is key. Alcohol can speed up dehydration so if you're following keto and decide to drink, it’s important to chase it with water.
And we highly recommend that you work with a nutritionist while on keto. It should be considered a short-term lifestyle change and should not be relied upon long term because of potential health risks. Consider a modified keto diet — bonus, you can drink more red wine!