Holiday Cheers!

December 21, 2010

The holiday season is upon us, here are SupermarketGruru's suggestions when shopping in the beverage aisle to stay slender into the New Year

The holiday season is upon us and we’ve all heard about the ubiquitous weight gain this time of year… Here’s SupermarketGuru's guide to the calories and carbs in your favorite drinks; so you can make a more informed choice about what to serve, order, and what to skip, to stick with your diet, or just avoid the unwanted extras.

The calorie count in our favorite holiday cheers comes from the alcohol itself (pure alcohol contains roughly 7 calories per gram) and the mixers, which are usually fruit juice, composed mostly of carbohydrates at roughly 4 calories per gram.

Frozen or blended drinks with their combination of (usually sweetened) fruit juices, alcohol and flavored liqueur are the most lethal in terms of calorie/ carb content: avoid Piña Coladas and Mai Tai’s unless you’re okay with adding 300 or so calories to your daily intake – and on the same note, avoid the ‘party punch’ too – unless you’re happy to go hog-wild with your calories and have the next day set aside to nurse your aching head!

Light beer is often recommended for those watching their waistlines – if you can stand it and there are various other versions of ‘light’ drinks (malt liquor for example), which promote the number of calories- so you know exactly what you’re getting.

As a rough guide a glass of wine (5 oz), or a shot of liquor contains somewhere between 100 – 125 calories, while dessert wine like sherry or port has around 150 calories and more than 12 grams of carbs (for a 3.5 oz serving) and liqueurs contain between 175 – 250 calories per 2.5 oz serving and anywhere from 12 to 40 grams of carbs: the sweeter the taste – the higher the calories and carbohydrates.

So a good calorie counting and very low carb option is hard liquor, but watch your mixer – unless you’re going for club soda or tonic (10 calories per fluid ounce) – juice or regular soda will double your calories at least (diet soda won’t, but does contain artificial sweeteners).

Wine might just be your best bet, because along with those fewer calories you are actually getting some health benefits too. Moderate, but regular red wine intake has been shown to reduce the occurrence of heart disease and is believed to help prevent some cancers.

So, if you’re counting calories the same rule applies to wine as to liquor – the sweeter the taste, the denser the caloric count.
Dry white wine like Sauvignon Blanc, Chablis or Chardonnay has roughly 550 calories per bottle, therefore 110 per glass (5 oz) and 3 grams of carbs.

Dry champagne or dry sparkling wine has about 116 calories and 4.5 oz carbs in a 5 oz glass and a Reisling, Chenin Blanc (‘off dry’) or White Zinfandel 118 calories and 5 grams of carbs.

A sweet wine like Muscat will have around 130 calories and 8 grams of carbs, while reds like Pinot Noir, Cabernet, Merlot, Red Zinfandel and Bordeaux contain approximately 115 calories and 4 grams of carbs and Burgundy is a little higher with 120 calories and 5.5 grams of carbs.

Some wine makers are developing lines especially for the calorie conscious – for example Beringer produce White Lie, a California wine which has 97 calories per glass due to less alcohol and less sugar.

These counts are all approximate and one of the most important factors to take into account when drinking wine is the size of the glass – the variety of shapes and sizes of wine glasses out there makes it almost impossible to calorie count with any real accuracy. If a large restaurant glass is two thirds full you probably have a 5 to 6 oz serving – so keep count and enjoy in moderation to reap the long lasting health benefits and savor the delicious taste!