Just in time for Thirsty Thursday, a smart trick to let yourself enjoy two glasses of wine for the caloric price of one! Whether at home with your girls or sweetie, or out on the prowl at happy hour, this is a sneaky trick to help manage your weight without putting a damper on your social life.
Now, before I tell you the trick, let me say this is in no way an endorsement for drinking. I am not giving anyone permission to over-indulge or anything like that. There is much mixed information in the news about how red wine contains antioxidants and resveretrol, so it has to be healthy; or alcohol causes lowered inhibition, weight gain, and loose morals, so it’s the devil. There is some truth to both sides, and my life motto is all things in moderation. Women are recommended to drink no more than one beverage per day, and men two. An alcoholic beverage means:
- 5 ounces of wine
- 12 ounces of beer
- 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits, such as vodka (a shot)
While it is true that some studies show various mental and physical health benefits of moderate amounts of alcohol (specifically wine), alcohol also contains “empty” calories. This means that you are getting calories from the drink, but no health benefits from vitamins or nutrients. So you need to take into account the calories that you will be adding on top of all your food calories for the day, or you will gain weight over time. This also goes for other “empty” beverages like soda pop or sugary coffee drinks.
Calories in Wine
Depending on the type of wine, one 5 ounce glass can contain between 100 and 300 calories. That is the typical size of a midday snack or breakfast. The range is large because it depends upon the type of wine and the sugar content. Sweeter wines tend to have more sugar, and thus more calories, than dry wines. Which is unfortunate, because I can kill a whole bottle of moscato in one sitting, but take two hours to force down a dry red. I guess that’s the idea…
The website GetDrunkNotFat is aptly named, and specializes in exactly the type of information you would think. They have a great chart here that summarizes many types of beverages (including things other than wine) broken down by calories per serving, serving size, even grams of carbohydrates per serving. You should also check out this amazing infographic on “Wine for Beginners” by Madeline Puckette from WineFolly.com:
The part you’ve been waiting for!
Anyways, there is a way you can have you wine and drink it too. (Nonsensical metaphor, check). Simply ask the bartender or yourself to mix half wine with half soda water. Carbonated water or seltzer water have as many calories as regular water: Zero. Therefore, you can have 2.5 oz of wine plus 2.5 oz of sparkling water, twice! That’s nicer than having one glass of wine, and one glass of water, don’t you think?
Carbonated water gets its fizzy property from dissolved carbon dioxide. Many names are basically synonymous, including: soda water, seltzer, carbonated water, club soda, sparkling water, and mineral water, with small distinctions. The exception, which is not synonymous, is tonic water. This is definitely not water-flavored; if ever you have tried it you are aware of its bitter taste. This bitter property comes from the organic compound quinine.
|What quinine looks like. In case you ever need to
organic chemistry your way out of a situation at a bar.
While bitter compounds are typically rejected by your taste buds (from an evolutionary mechanism which protected early people from ingesting poisons, see the comic below), quinine has been used in medicine for centuries. In fact, quinine has been and is still used occasionally to treat malaria. Interestingly, it is also naturally fluorescent. So if you’re at a club with black lights, you could always order a gin & tonic and amaze your friends with your glowing beverage.
|The same logic applies to foods and drinks. If it was bitter, it might be poison. At least nowadays we know better.|
So now that you know, choose your fizzy calorie-free mixer, and your wine of choice. May I recommend not diluting a very expensive fine wine, but going for something like (now) three-buck-chuck? Simply because, if you can afford a $200-bottle of wine, I assume you want to enjoy the wine for itself. In that case, please proceed, and maybe email me so we can be friends?
You can even use flavored soda water so that you don’t notice a taste difference, or improve the taste of a wine you aren’t terribly fond of, but are tired of that 1/3 full bottle in the fridge.
It makes a bubbly beverage that feels even more special. And good news, there is no scientific evidence that carbonated water harms bone health, in case that was a concern.
For more health effects of alcohol, check out:
- Interactive website DrinkAware from the UK
- Alcohol Health & Research World article “Alcohol and Neurotransmitter Interactions” by C. Fernando Valenzuela, M.D., Ph.D.
- The fantastically amusing and educational website WineFolly