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What to Skip When Sipping Wine: A Guide to Counting Calories

You just finished a great week of workouts at the gym. The cute spin guy gave you a high-five for not passing out again, and you’ve somehow managed to squeeze kale into nearly every meal. Now it’s Friday, and you’re out at dinner feeling supremely powerful. The waiter hands you the menu, your eyes glaze over, and you’re stuck battling over a glass of chardonnay with the famished demon inside you.

Don’t be embarrassed—we’ve all been there. It’s called wine dysphoria, and it’s a serious medical condition. OK, maybe not, but we can all get a little crazy when we’re trying to slim down. But guilt-tripping over a glass of vino shouldn’t be part of your wellness plan, and it doesn’t have to be.

Yes, there’s a precise mathematical equation that will give you an exact calorie count for a particular glass of red, white or sparkling, but math is hard—especially after 5 o’clock. Here’s the simplified skinny on wine calories and how to make smart choices that are sure to please without sabotaging.

Sparkling Wine and Champagne

Believe it or not, Champagne and sparkling wine have the least amount of calories because they’re also some of the lowest in alcohol. Ipso fact, if you’re watching that waistline, it’s time to pop some bubbly.

A 4-ounce glass of Champagne will set you back about 90 calories. Cava and sparkling wines are also fabulously low in calories, especially the Brute Nature or Brute Zero variety (115 calories), which have no added sugar.

To burn off 100 calories, you would have to swim or cycle for 10 vigorous minutes. If you don’t have time for that, replace your midmorning banana berry fruit smoothie (260 calories) with a banana (105 calories).


Sugar has fewer calories per gram than alcohol, which means many of the sweet wines you enjoy like Riesling (110 calories), White Zinfandel (120 calories) and Moscato (120 calories) often contain fewer calories than dry red wines.

Dry white wines, however, are also pretty low in calories: Pinot Grigio (123 calories) and Sauvignon Blanc (120 calories). For the Chardonnay drinkers, good news: At 123 calories per serving, you don’t have to worry about ordering that second glass.

To burn 120 calories, you would have to walk briskly for 30 minutes or do 200 sit-ups. If that all sounds awful, just replace your morning caramel macchiato (240 calories) with a cup of black coffee (2 calories) or replace the half chicken Caesar salad (230 calories) with a garden salad (80 calories) dressed in red wine vinegar.


Most people are quick to assume reds have fewer calories because they typically taste less sweet. However, many of these full-figured wines are high in alcohol and therefore not the best choice if you want to slim down.

Most red wine varietals have more than 120 calories per serving, spanning from pinot noir (123 calories) and cabernet sauvignon (124 calories) to California Zinfandel (190 calories) and Australian Syrah (190 calories).

Light-bodied red wines including Pinot Noir are a safer bet if you want to go red. Stay away from aperitif or after dinner drinks like port (100 calories per 2-ounce serving) or other fortified wines with high alcohol content.

To burn 200 calories, you would have to jump rope for 20 minutes or do yoga for 40 minutes. You could also skip the double scoop of chocolate ice cream (286 calories) for dessert.

Wine dysphoria isn’t a real medical condition and doesn’t have to control your life. With a few simple swaps you can balance your desire for wine with smart daily decisions that will allow you to enjoy a bit of everything—hopefully without doing any actual math.

San Francisco’s Tri-Valley region is made up of Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin and Danville. Come stay in the sunny side of the Bay. 

By Whitney Butler