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30 Second Wine Tasting Tip:
Wine, calories and carbohydrates

One of the surest signs of summer - at least around an online wine publication - is the sudden increase in E-mail from fretful wine lovers who just tried on swimming attire, checked the mirror, and now want to know whether it's necessary to give up wine during a crash diet.

Total abstinence may not be necessary, but as in so many things, moderation is the key. The good news is that wine contains zero fat and zero cholesterol. But there's no way around the reality that you can't drink much of it without showing the results on your waistline.

Based on nutritional data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a 5-ounce glass of dry red or white table wine (the standard serving) carries about 125 calories. For comparison, a full 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola has 140 calories; a 12-ounce bottle of beer has 150 calories; and an 8-ounce glass of whole milk has 160 calories.

The exact calorie content of wine varies with its alcohol and sugar content, so sweet wines pack more impact than most dry table wines. If a taste of Port or other rich and fortified dessert wine takes your fancy, be warned that a 5-ounce serving can go up to 225 calories or even more ... in the same caloric territory as a 2-inch wedge of cheesecake.

How about carbohydrates? Most nutritionists don't think much of low-carbohydrate diets, but if you're following one of these faddish plans, you'll find it hard to fit in much wine. Amounts vary, but a 5-ounce serving of dry white table wine may have 1.25 grams of carbohydrates, while a glass of red may go up to 2.5 grams; sweet wines will have substantially more.

My wine-loving scientist pal Paul Winalski adds these thoughts on carbohydrates in wine: "All carbohydrates do not have the same number of calories per gram. Case in point: cellulose is a carbohydrate compound and it has zero available calories, since the human body is incapable of metabolizing it. However, metabolizable carbohydrates are close enough in caloric value that the differences aren't significant when setting up a dietary regimen. Ethanol (beverage alcohol) is not a carbohydrate. It belongs to a different class of chemical compounds called aliphatic alcohols. Ethanol is metabolized to produce energy, but the yield is less per gram than with sugars. Nonetheless it's a significant contribution to the overall caloric value of a glass of wine."

In other words, if you're concerned about carbohydrates, be warned that the alcohol in wine may act much like a carbohydrate even if it doesn't show up fully in the numbers.

"One of the first things that a dietician or physician specializing in weight loss is going to tell you," Winalski adds, "is to cut back on the booze."

For most of us, though, wine certainly may be included in a moderate lifestyle of sensible eating and exercise. Cut back on sweet drinks and fatty snacks, and you'll have plenty of room in your diet for a little wine; and if you think you need to diet seriously, consult your physician for advice.

What's your experience with diet and wine? To participate in this topic in our interactive Wine Lovers' Discussion Group, click Or send me E-mail at I regret that the growing circulation of the "Wine Advisor" makes it difficult for me to reply individually to every note. But I'll respond to as many as I can and do my best to address specific questions. Please be assured that all your input helps me do a better job of writing about wine.

Please tell your wine-loving friends about The 30 Second Wine Advisor (weekly) and Wine Advisor Express (daily), and invite them to register for their own free subscription at

30 Second Tasting Notes:
Alsatian Pinot Gris
Pierre Sparr Pierre Sparr 1999 Alsace Pinot Gris ($12.99)
Despite sentimental votes for Northern Italy (where it's called Pinot Grigio), Oregon and New Zealand, few wine lovers would dispute that the grape variety Pinot Gris reaches its peak in the Alsace region of France. This young delight offers an excellent example at a reasonable price. Pale brass in color, it offers fresh, delicate honeydew and lemon scents. Ripe and appetizing, crisp citric flavors fill the palate, medium-bodied and very fresh; cleansing acidity balances with ripe fruit in a very long finish. U.S. importer: W. J. Deutsch & Sons Ltd., Harrison, N.Y. (June 24, 2001)

FOOD MATCH: An excellent match with a mild, Caribbean-style chicken-and-rice pilaf with summer squash, bell peppers and a splash of coconut milk.

Wine Lovers' Voting Booth:
What's your partner's attitude?
Just about every relationship involves some agreement and some differences, and forging a good match involves give-and-take. For many couples, this simple reality clearly applies to wine.

For this week's Wine Lovers' Voting Booth, we're trying to get a glimpse of the scope and diversity of wine relationships, by asking the simple but probing question, "Does your partner (spouse, roommate, significant other) share your passion for wine?" To take part, simply click to

30 Second Advertising Partner:
California Wine Club
Who loses track of 500 cases of a 1996 Cabernet? Renaissance Winery in remote Yuba County of California, that's who.

Renaissance never fails to produce stunning Cabernets. The '96 Cabernet is brimming with flavors of ripe berry, with a long, chocolatey finish. It takes about a half-hour to open up but when it does, it's fabulous!

When The California Wine Club got the call that Renaissance had just a few cases left, they couldn't pass up the opportunity to acquire them all.

Regular Retail Price ... $20
30 Second Wine Advisor Price ... $10

Half or full cases only. Price is FOB Ventura, CA.

The California Wine Club is an ideal way to receive or give two bottles of award-winning wine each month. Hand selected from California's smaller, boutique wineries, selections are virtually unavailable to all but California Wine Club members. Subscriptions start at just $32.95 per month, plus shipping.

The California Wine Club - 1-800-777-4443.

California Wine Club

Wine Tasting 101:
A reminder
Dedicated to sharpening your wine-tasting palate by learning to record your impressions and share them with others, WINE TASTING 101 is an interactive online forum in which participants will try the same wine, then post a tasting report for comment and encouragement in a civil, supportive atmosphere.

This month's wine is PAUL JABOULET AINE 1998 "PARALLELE '45'" COTES-DU-RHONE, a modest French red that should be available in most parts of the world for $10 or less. Next week we'll announce another widely available wine as our July feature. Please click to for the details.

30 Second Administrivia
This free E-mail publication is distributed to subscribers every Monday, and our daily Wine Advisor Express is E-mailed Tuesday through Friday. Previous editions are archived at

You are on the subscription list because you registered during a visit to Robin Garr's Wine Lovers' Page. To change your E-mail address, switch from the weekly (Mondays only) to daily distribution, or for any other administrative matters, E-mail And of course we welcome feedback, suggestions, and ideas for future columns. We do not use this list for any other purpose and will never give or sell your name or E-mail to anyone.

All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.

More time for wine?
You don't need to wait for Mondays to read about wine! Drop in any time at the Wine Lovers' Page,, where we add new tasting notes several times each week and frequently expand our selection of wine-appreciation articles, tips and tutorials. If you'd like to talk about wine online with fellow wine enthusiasts around the world, click to our interactive, international Wine Lovers' Discussion Group forums,

Vol. 3, No. 23, June 25, 2001

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