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The Calories in a Glass of Wine vs. Shot of Whiskey vs Beer

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Ever wondered how you have reduced calorie intake on your meals, you are taking a light fat-free breakfast, or skipping it all together, stopped eating dessert/sugary snacks, started a more rigorous exercise routine and yet your scale shows you the same weight every day or worse at times as it shows more than the previous day.

Good God, what’s going on here!

Have you considered that glass of beer or wine, or shot of whiskey, or even 2, that you have every evening to take the edge off?

Yes, those glasses of wines or beer or a shot of whiskey,they take the weight away from your head but put it all around the rest of your body.

If you haven’t checked the calories for those drinks in a while, or ever, maybe it is time to do so.

I think you will be amazed at what you are adding back into your diet with these seemingly innocent drinks.

calories in wine
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Standard Drink

The intoxication level depends on the quantity of alcohol present in a drink. The quantity of beverage containing 14 grams of pure alcohol is considered as a standard US drink.

The table below depicts different beverages with the serving sizes equivalent to 14 grams of alcohol in them and also the ‘Alcohol by Volume’ (ABV) in those serving sizes.

Beverage Type Serving Size ABV
Beer 12 oz 5%
Malt Liquor 8.5 oz 7%
Wine 5 oz 12%
Liqueur 2.5 oz 24%
Brandy, 80% proof Gin, Whiskey, Vodka 1.5 oz 40%

Factors Determining Calories in Alcoholic Beverages

Each alcoholic drink has different calories in it. When you consume any of these drinks, you add on that many calories in your diet. And mind you, it is all empty calories with no nutritional values what-so-ever.

Below you will find the different calories present in different types of beverages. But before delving into the calories of different types of beverages, let us first understand the factors that determine the calories in all these alcoholic beverages.

There are 3 factors that decide the calories in a drink.

  • Serving Size
  • Quantity of Alcohol
  • Quantity of Carbohydrate or sugar

It means that the quantity of alcohol and carbohydrate present in a particular serving size of the beverage would determine the amount of calories in it.

Now, a simple piece of information- every gram of alcohol contains 7 calories, and every gram of carbohydrate contains 4 calories.

It means a standard drink would contain a minimum of 98 calories plus additional calories depending on the carbohydrates present in the drink.

Calories in Beer

From light beer to the stronger IPA beer, the calories in a serving of beer range from around 90 to over 300.

However, the average calorie revolves around 175-200 calories in a moderately strong beer. Here is a list of some popular beers alongside their respective calories with a serving size of 12 oz.

Type of Beer Serving Size Calories
Bud Light 12 oz 101
Miller Light 12 oz 96
Michelob Ultra 12 oz 92
Guinness 12 oz 125
Blue Moon Belgian White 12 oz 164
Coronado Idiot IPA 12 oz 241

Calories in Wine

There are many factors that contribute to the ABV of wine, including:

  • Variety of Grape
  • Type of wine
  • Vineyard (harvesting) location
  • Harvesting time

For instance, a late-harvested grape would have a higher ABV of 11% compared to an in-time harvested grape, where ABV is as low as 7%.

German wine usually has high ABV rates due to the cold climatic conditions and the national grape harvesting regulation.

Due to the above conditions, German wines are made with higher residual sugar for balancing the acidity of the wine. The typical sugar value in a German wine would be around 55-60 grams/liter.

Now, how do you differentiate between a dry wine, semi-sweet, or sweet wine? The following table depicts the type of wine along with their respective sugar levels as defined by the European Union regulations.

Sugar Level Wine type
Above 45 grams/liter Sweet Wine
18-45 grams/liter Off-dry Wine
Less than 18 grams/liter Dry Wine

With this information, let us now have a look at the calorie levels of different types of wine.

Calories in White & Red Wine

As the color of the wine changes from ‘White’ to ‘Rose’ to ‘Red, the calories increase in that order.

A dry redwine has the maximum calorie averaging around 100, and in comparison, dry white wine would hover around 90 calories.

Sweetened wine will have higher calories. So, if you are particularly calorie-conscious, avoid having these types of wines.

No keep in mind the table below is just an average of that particular wine. The actual calorie count will vary from wine to wine within that category based on ABV, carb levels, etc..

Type of Wine Serving Size Calories
White Table Wine 5 oz 121
Monastrell 5 oz 130
Fume Blanc 5 oz 121
Sangiovese 5 oz 126
Muller Thurgau 5 oz 114
Cabernet Franc 5 oz 123
Pinot Blanc 5 oz 121
Grenache 5 oz 122
Sauvignon Blanc 5 oz 120
Red Table Wine 5 oz 124
Rioja 5 oz 113
Burgundy 5 oz 128
Tempranillo 5 oz 113
Gamay 5 oz 115
Malbec 5 oz 118
Mouvedre 5 oz 131
Grenache 5 oz 122
Zinfandel 5 oz 131
Priorat 6 oz 122

Calories in Sparkling, Dessert and Fortified Wine

Sparkling wine is wine with a very high level of CO2 in it. Champagne is the most popular example of sparkling wine.

Though there are few Australian or Italian sparkling wines which are red, most sparkling wines are either white or rose.

EU guidelines define the sweetness level of sparkling wine.

Sugar Level Wine type
<3 grams/liter Brut Natural
<6 grams/liter Extra Brut
<12 grams/liter Brut

The definitions of Dessert wine and Fortified wines are not very clear. Different countries have different definitions. For instance, in the US, any wine with more than 14% ABV is termed as a dessert wine. This includes even fortified wines. So, it is not the sugar level but the ABV that defines the dessert wine in the US.

However, in the UK, it is dependent on the time of serving wine with reference to mealtime. A dessert wine is served during the meal, while white and red fortified wines are served before and after the meals, respectively.

Here are the calories of some of the known sparkling, dessert, and fortified wines.

Type of Wine Serving Size Calories
Prosecco (brut) 5 oz 110
Asti Spumante 5 oz 98
Champagne (brut) 5 oz 115
Dry Dessert Wine 3.5 oz 157
Red Dessert Wine 3.5 oz 165
Dry Vermouth 3 oz 105
Ruby Port 3 oz 139
Sweet Sherry 3 oz 165

Calories in Liqueurs

Liqueurs contain comparatively high-calorie levels.The following are some of the more sought after Liqueurs with their serving size and calorie levels.

Type of Liqueurs Serving Size Calories
Bailey’s Irish Cream 2.5 oz 141
Apricot Brandy 2.5 oz 200
Crème de Cacao 2.5 oz 246
Drambuie 2.5 oz 275
Kirsch 2.5 oz 223

Calories in Whiskey and Other Distilled Beverages

Distilled Beverages (Spirits), on an average, contain moderately high-calorie levels. An alcoholic drink comes in the category of distilled beverage if it has 15% ABV and contains pure and distilled alcohol content, which is much safer for human consumption.

These are non-preserved drinks with or without the addition of color.

Mainly, beverages like brandy, gin, rum, vodka, whiskey, etc. fall into the category of Spirits.

It is due to the fact that these beverages undergo thorough head and tail separation during their precise distillation process; these drinks are free from most of the fermentation by-products and, thus, have significant calorie levels.

In this particular category, drinks with high-calories like Vodka or Rum, etc. are advised to be taken with tonic, fresh lemon juice, calorie-free club soda, sugar, or high-sugar beverages. On the other hand, brandy comprises the least content of calories.

Type of Distilled Beverage Serving Size Calories
Brandy 1.5 oz 98
Gin(86 proof) 1.5 oz 106
Gin(94 proof) 1.5 oz 116
Rum (86 proof) 1.5 oz 106
Rum (94 proof) 1.5 oz 116
Vodka (86 proof) 1.5 oz 106
Vodka (94 proof) 1.5 oz 116
Whiskey (86 proof) 1.5 oz 106
Whiskey (94 proof) 1.5 oz 116
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Calories in Cocktails

Cocktails are multiple precise and wide-ranging blends of different types of alcoholic beverages mixed with, usually, sugary mixers. The calorie content in cocktails has an extra-wide range.

On one extreme, some cocktails like highballs have calorie contents far lower than white table wine. However, on the other extreme cocktails like Mai Tai is a real calorie bomb!

Type of Cocktail Serving Size Calories
Highball 8 oz 110
Bloody Mary 4.6 oz 120
Mai Tai 5 oz 395
Margarita 4 oz 168

These were the calorie levels of different types of alcoholic beverages. So, if you are on a diet, the next time you order a drink or make one for yourself, just check that it does not interfere with your diet plan.

You can always eat less to drink more

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