Our desire to eat healthy, understand what we are consuming, or new dietary restrictions has made this a very common question in my world. When selecting the wines that I wanted to import into Ontario it was top of mind for me. I also tend to love this style of wine as they are ideal for food pairing and tend to age well in the cellar. As this question or the hunt for this type of wine is so popular I thought it would be the perfect topic for Drink Up!
A wine with little to no residual sugar is a Low Sugar Wine. According to a few Keto sites as long as the wine has less than 10g/li residual sugar it can be considered a low sugar wine. That seems a bit high in my opinion as I keep my suggestions for low sugar wines to 5g/li and below but for information purposes I’m including it. Residual Sugar (RS) is the total amount of sugars that are left over or created through the fermentation process. It is measured and written in grams per litre (g/li). Many retailers have their own scales to indicate the RS levels. The LCBO includes it as a bracket on the bottom left of the price tag and in the description on the website. Some wine labels like some wine tech sheets will include a scale or state the level but this is not mandatory information. If you really want to geek out you can learn the minimum or maximum RS levels of the region you enjoy as many regions include this in their appellation laws. RS is one of the structure blocks in wine that make up the flavour profile. It provides texture, can balance high levels of acidity, can help with ageability/longevity and in some cases protect against microbes. When you are blind tasting being able to correctly gage the amount of RS can help point you to a region or style of wine.
All wine will have some level of residual sugar so here are three tips to narrow down the selections and make it easier to purchase a low sugar wine:
#1 the posted alcohol level. This is mandatory labeling and if the wine is above 14% alcohol you will be moving out of the low sugar wine category. The same can be said of alcohol levels under 10% unless it’s a dealcoholized wine.
#2 region of production. The growing conditions for the grape have a direct impact on sugar levels. As grapes ripen acid levels convert to natural sugars. The acid and sugar levels need to be balanced in the fruit to ensure a balanced wine. A warm/hot climate will spike this curve resulting in a higher level of natural sugar and greater odds of RS or higher alcohol in order to keep the wine balanced. Continental- cooler climates and regions with fewer sunlight hours are ideal for low sugar wines. You will also note that these regions tend to produce wines that range from 11%-13.5% abv. There are always exceptions to the rule, a high altitude region in a warm climate will produce a gradual ripening curve due to temperature swings from day to night.
#3 Grape Variety. Each variety has its own ripening window and characteristics. For example, Zinfandel and Grenache have lower levels of acid to convert so when ripe they have higher levels of natural sugar. This means that it will be rare to find a low sugar wine made from these grapes. Read up on your favourite grapes to see where they fall or feel free to contact us for more info.
A 150ml glass of wine with no to low levels of residual sugar (RS) has a caloric count of 108 which are considered carbs. This is based on the ethanol found in the wine.
There are hundreds of wonderful low sugar wines available in the market which may not be on your radar. Even though they may not be marketed as low sugar, using these tips will help you when purchasing a wine.
Grape must is a perfect solution for alcohol fermentation. Yeast convert 1 mole of sugar (glucose, fructose, sucrose) to 2 moles of ethanol and 2 moles of C02 with moles of energy and water also being produced.
Katy Moore Wines is available to assist with the selection and or stocking you up with great low sugar wines.