Which Wines Have the Least Sugar?

Save yourself a headache tomorrow.

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Photo by: David Crockett / Getty Images

David Crockett / Getty Images

Love a glass of wine, but monitoring your sugar intake? Get ready to say “cheers” to these options!

First of all, what determines and impacts the sugar content of wine? “The sweetness of a wine is determined by how long it is fermented,” says Maryann Walsh, MFN, RD, a dietitian and certified diabetes educator in Palm Beach, FL. “The naturally present fructose and glucose in wine are major parts of the fermentation process. During this process, yeast converts the natural sugars to alcohol and carbon dioxide.” What does this mean for a wine’s sugar level and buzz potential? “When less sugar is fermented, more will stay in the wine — and the alcohol content of a sweeter wine will usually be lower,” says Walsh.

In general, a dry wine — one that’s not too sweet — will fall into the lower-sugar category. When shopping for low-sugar sparkling wine in particular, look for a bottle with the descriptor “brut,” “dry” or “extra dry.” The words “asti spumante” or “moscato d’ asti,” on the other hand, indicate sweeter sparkling wines. “They could have anywhere from 10 to 25 grams of sugar per serving,” notes Walsh.

Some companies tailor wines to the low-sugar market. FitVine, for instance, sells low-sugar wines, typically with less than 1 gram of sugar per serving. The FitVine Pinot Noir contains .03 g sugar per serving, while the FitVine Chardonnay has .04 g sugar. Additionally, Dry Farm Wines sources wines guaranteed to contain less than 1 g sugar per liter, making them virtually void of sugar.

Because all wines are produced differently, there’s no be-all, end-all rule to buying the lowest-sugar wine. Some winemakers may even add sugar or grape juice to heighten the sweetness of a wine. That said, use this guide from Walsh as a start to your lower-sugar wine shopping. Some wine manufacturers will be able to provide nutrition information about specific wines. And if you’re looking to make the most of your one pour, try cutting your wine with sparkling water, to create a spritzer.

Reds

With dryer reds, you can expect 1 to 3 g sugar per 5-ounce pour for the following varietals.

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Merlot
  • Pinot Noir
  • Tempranillo

Whites

With dryer whites you can expect 1 to 3 g sugar per 5-ounce pour for the following varietals.

  • Chardonnay
  • Pinot Grigio
  • Sauvignon Blanc

Sparkling

With dryer sparkling wines you can expect 1 to 3 g sugar per 3- to 5-ounce pour for the following options.

  • Brut Champagne
  • Prosecco

And, when you're out shopping, try to avoid wines with the following words, which typically imply a higher sugar content:

  • Dessert
  • Late harvest
  • Ice wine
  • Spatlese
  • Eiswein
  • Dolce
  • Demi sec
  • Semi sec

Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area. She’s a regular contributor to many publications, including EverydayHealth.com, ReadersDigest.com, NBCNews.com, and more. She also pens a recipe-focused blog, Amy’s Eat List, where she shares easy, healthy recipes. Connect with her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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