Wine and Calories - How Wine is Metabolized

In the article on Determining Calories in Wine, I explain how calories in wine are directly related to the alcohol content. You simply take the percentage of alcohol, multiply times the # of ounces you drink, and multiply that times 1.6. Simple. So a 5% alcohol wine, in a 5 oz serving, means 1.6 x 5 x 5 = 40 calories.

If you look at the Wine, Alcohol, and Ethanol - the Chemistry of Wine, you'll see that really there IS nothing else in wine to consider!

Simply looking at 40 calories is misleading - you need to realize HOW those alcohol calories are processed by your body. To begin with, alcohol lowers your blood sugar levels instead of raising them, and it helps raise your "good cholesterol" levels. Unlike most foods, alcohol is processed by your liver. You'll note that that is why alcoholics tend to get liver damage, from the liver trying to handle so much alcohol.

What the liver does is take in the alcohol and convert it to acetate. Only a small amount of the alcohol actually becomes fat. Most of it gets released into your blood system as acetate. And your body enjoys burning acetate as a fuel source. So while this acetate won't make you fat, your body is now choosing to burn that acetate instead of burning the fat you already have in your system.

So if you are dieting, drink wine in moderation. Wine brings you many health benefits, but the *alcohol* in the wine is a fine source of energy for your body. A wise decision would be to hold off on the high-alcohol drinks, and stay with the lower-alcohol wines while you begin your dieting. You don't want your body to start relying on the large intake of alcohol for its energy, instead of burning off your excess fat!


A great deal of research and work went into my wine / health pages. If you use this information, please credit me properly. Thanks!

Wine and Health

All content on the WineIntro website is personally written by author and wine enthusiast Lisa Shea. WineIntro explores the delicious variety and beautiful history which makes up our world of wine! Lisa loves supporting local wineries and encouraging people to drink whatever they like. We all have different taste buds, and that makes our world wonderful. Always drink responsibly.