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How to Find a Keto Wine, Plus the Top 10 Low-Carb Wines

By Fitoru | 06 September 2019
Keto Red Wine Pouring

You know that quitting carbs and sugar on a keto diet means you have to quit potatoes, candy, and bread, but does it also mean you have to be a teetotaler too? No wine with dinner, no cocktails while out with your friends? Don’t worry: you don’t have to give up alcohol on keto, you just need to find low-carb options to drink moderately, and that means wines low in residual sugar. How do you know which wines are low in sugar? We have the answers for how to choose a keto wine below.

The Ketogenic Diet

The key to the ketogenic diet is to deny the body its easiest energy source, sugar (glucose), so that instead it’s forced to get to work burning fat for ketone energy. This means measuring out grams of carbs very carefully, because your body will always want to conserve its energy as much as possible. Trust us when we say, your body would much prefer to pack on pounds rather than burn them up. 

Evolutionarily storing extra pounds has been advantageous to guard against times of famine, but in the modern world you’re less under the threat of starvation than you are in danger of metabolic disorders like obesity, high blood sugar, and type 2 diabetes. 

Eating a keto diet and eliminating artificial sweeteners is an incredibly healthy lifestyle choice, but does aiming for little-to-zero carbs in your diet mean zero alcohol consumption as well? Not necessarily! We’ll explain how to safely get some of the fun and social effects of alcohol without derailing your diet.

The top options in keto wines.

What Makes a Wine Keto Friendly?

For those who aren’t on any particular diet, usually all there is to look for in selecting a wine is taste, cost, and alcohol level. For those on a keto diet, however, there’s more to consider. 

Not if you choose carefully. 

For beers, the less hoppy they are, the fewer carbs you’ll be drinking. For mixed liquor drinks, the simpler the better (clearer alcohols like vodka and tequila, and plain mixers like diet colas or seltzer). For wines you’ll start to notice the words “dry” and “brut” on the labels—brut is French for “unsweetened, very dry,” and it will most likely have the lowest amount of residual sugar. 

What’s the trick for choosing the right Merlot or Pinot Grigio for dinner? Well, the first step is to find out what makes a wine keto friendly.

Dry Wines

What makes a dry wine? Are only white wines dry wines, or can red wine be dry too? 

The answer is simple: a wine is “dry” if it has fewer than 10 grams of sugar in the bottle

Of course, where exactly is the nutrition label on a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc? It’s not there: your only guides when perusing the wine aisle are words like “dry” and “brut” on the label (but don’t worry, we have some specific labels you can explore below).

Low-Sugar Wines

Wine’s fermentation process naturally involves sugar. Yeast feeds on the natural sugars in grapes and produces ethanol, i.e., alcohol. The more sugar consumed by the yeast, the less sugar you’ll consume in turn. Keep in mind that dry wines aren’t sugar free (though they are much less sugary than sweet wines). 

Drinking any alcohol on keto contributes to your sugar intake, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a glass or two on occasion. There are a few ways to go about this. First, you can plan wisely for certain “cheat” days, or you can opt for a cyclical keto diet. Second, be sure to choose wines with the lowest amount of sugars possible. 

The top options in keto wines.

The Top 10 Best Keto Wines to Choose From

Here’s your cheat sheet for keto wines, divided into reds and whites, plus a general list of wines to avoid on keto.

Red Keto Wine

Not all low-carb red wines are created equal. We’ve ranked them in order of net carbs per 5 ounces (approximately one glass). Keto-friendly wines in the red category include:

  1. Pinot Noir: With just 3.4 grams of carbs per serving size, this is the top of the keto red wines list (not far from the Chardonnay option on the white list).
  2. Merlot: Ever so slightly higher than Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot has just 3.7 grams of carbs per glass.
  3. Cabernet Sauvignon: At 3.8 grams of carbs per glass, Cabernet Sauvignon is the most popular dry red wine in the United States.
  4. Syrah: Otherwise known as Shiraz, this red has just 4 grams of carbs in each serving.
  5. Red Zinfandel: Not so much White Zinfandel, which is pink in coloring, Red Zinfandel has a mere 4.2 grams of carbs per glass.

After these top five low-carb red wines, there’s a steep drop-off. Sherry and Port wines have 9 grams of carbs per glass, so if you’re looking for reds to pair with your low-carb diet, look among those with fewer than 5 grams per cup. 

For example, Dry Farm Wines is a wine club that makes and delivers biodynamic reds that are low in alcohol and low in sugar, so not only are you more okay to drink them on keto, but you’re also helping to support farming practices that seek to create a self-sustaining ecosystem within the vineyard.

White Keto Wine

Again, each of these wines are under 5 grams of carbs per glass (between 3 and 4 grams in the case of whites). Low-sugar white wines for keto include:

  1. Sauvignon Blanc: This is your best bet for white wine at only 3 grams of carbs per glass. Sweet and crisp, it’s nevertheless the lowest in sugars and carbs out of both the white and red lists.
  2. Chardonnay: Another dry wine with just slightly more carbs (3.2 grams per glass), Chardonnay is America’s top favorite take-home wine by a long shot. 
  3. Champagne: Do you know the phrase “champagne for my real friends and real pain for my sham friends”? Maybe break it next time you have a reason to pop some bubbly and celebrate, because champagne has only 3.8 grams of carbs per glass.
  4. Pinot Grigio/Pinot Blanc: These two white wines are combined because they are nutritional equals, and they each have about 3.8 grams of carbs per glass.
  5. Prosecco: At 3.8 grams of carbs in a glass, this is the end of the line for keto-friendly dry white wines. 

After these top contenders, wines like White Zinfandel (which is pink), Riesling, and various sparkling wines go above 5 grams of carbs per glass and are not a safe bet on keto. For a better option check out FitVine: they create glasses of wine with a low enough carb count for keto, especially their Pinot Noir, with only 0.03 grams of residual sugar left over after the fermentation process.

No-Go Wines on Keto

Alcohol is a dangerous substance, and not just because it can upset your weight-loss goals on keto. The more you drink, the lower your inhibitions get, which can then lead you to drink more and eat more, disrupting the fat-burning system you’ve so carefully constructed with your keto meal plans

While it’s better to not drink alcohol at all, if you do partake after a long time away from alcohol, also keep in mind that you may find your tolerance for alcohol has weakened, and just one glass of wine might leave you with a hangover the next day, especially if it’s too sugary.

Here are the most sugary culprits when it comes to wines.

  • Port/Sherry wine
  • White/Pink Zinfandel
  • White/Red Sangria
  • Moscato
  • Riesling
  • Rosé
  • Dessert wines
  • Wine coolers or frozen wine pops

While drinking alcohol is doable on keto, rosé all day is not: some of these wines have grams of carbs and sugars in the double digits, and they will indeed knock you straight out of ketosis.

Finding Something to Wine About

Just as beer companies woke up to offering low-carb and light beers to their consumers, winemakers too are coming out with hard seltzers and low-sugar wines for their more health-conscious customers. While there’s no such thing as “keto alcohol,” there is such a thing as moderation, so you can enjoy a glass of wine in the evening, champagne on New Year’s Eve, and a cocktail when out with your friends without completely jeopardizing your diet. 

A ketogenic diet can literally help save your life by preventing chronic health conditions, but you haven’t joined some holy order and promised to abstain from alcoholic beverages forever. Keto is a low-carb, low-sugar diet, not a no-carb, no-fun ascetic lifestyle: it doesn’t have to be a chore! Find balance, choose wisely, and you can still say “cheers” on keto.

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