Is There More Sugar In Our Wine Than What We Think?

Everyone’s had that moment after a stressful day where all they want is to sit down, relax and have a drink. It can be a nice cold beer or something fancier like a glass of wine. But have you really stopped to wonder how healthy that drink is? And we don’t just mean that it’s unhealthy just because it’s alcohol either. There might be a lot more to your wine than you think.

Over the years, many wine companies have put heavier focus on perfecting the taste of their wines to give them unique flavours that suit different customer’s tastes – ranging from giving the wine more earthy flavours or even a sweet syrupy taste. As such, besides the natural production of wine through the fermentation of grapes, the process in which wine flavours are crafted isn’t any different from what’s done with most commercial products – through the addition of chemicals or extra ingredients other than grapes and yeast.

Chemicals give wineries the ability to adapt and shift the taste of the wine in whatever way without having to experiment too much with grape varieties and harvest times. Sugar, for example, helps speed up the fermentation process, especially if you’re trying to make some wine during the winter.

However, do note that these processes aren’t new. Ancient civilisations such as the Greeks or Roman did the same thing to their wines, in fact, they added even more unsavory ingredients such as pig’s blood. Imagine having that in your wine.

This fact is supported by Nancy Light, Vice President of Communications for Wine Institute, the primary advocacy association for the California Wine Industry in the United States, who said that winemakers were permitted to regulate the levels of sugar in their wines to achieve the desired style.

So then, just how much sugar goes into making wine? While American winemakers are obligated to put the level of sugar and other ingredients they use in the labels for the wine, as a way to warn anyone who might have an allergic reaction to certain ingredients, there are some exceptions.

For example, there are over sixty additives that winemakers aren’t required to list on the labels, and some regulations that they have to go through to get their wine on the shelves also vary depending on the country, sometimes it even varies with the state.

That doesn’t mean that we can’t estimate the levels of sugar in wine though. A typical a five-ounce glass of red wine can contain up to 0.9 grams of sugar. The levels vary depending on the type of wine you’re drinking though, with some wines going over 1 gram of sugar and dessert wines sometimes going up to even 7 grams of sugar per glass.

It might not seem like much, but at the end of the day all of that sugar ends up in our bodies and it quickly adds up. It’s something to take into consideration when you remember that we’re only suppose to consume 55 grams of sugar per day, at least according to Health Hub.

Again, this can add up quickly when most of the food around us has some form of sugar at least added to it for flavouring. So how can you watch out for the sugar in your wine? Well, the best you can do is to pay attention to the type of wine you buy. If you’re someone that watches over their health then it’s no different than what you do with everything else, make sure to read the label properly for all the ingredients it offers.

But then what about any other additives that might not be listed? You might ask. For that, our best advice is to not go overboard with the wine. As the Mediterraneans say, one glass of wine a day can be good for your health (red wine in particular thanks to the antioxidants present), but in excess, it adds up. So just remember not to overdo it, and you should be good.


Photo Credits: Salon, The Bubble, UC Davis

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