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You Don't Have to Give Up Wine with Thanksgiving Dinner

There are lots of things to love about October, November and December – watching the leaves turn colors, handing out candy on Halloween, gathering together with family over the holidays and celebrating the end of one year and the start of the next.

What’s not to love though? All of the extra calories that seem to stalk your every move during these three food-filled months. Each year I find myself in a battle to maintain a healthy lifestyle while still enjoying all of the fun of the holidays. Though magazines are filled with lots of suggestions and tips, a lot of them recommend steering clear of wine. I don’t know about you, but Thanksgiving turkey with a glass of water doesn’t cut it for me. So I thought it might be helpful to take a realistic look at how to navigate your way through the holidays without foregoing your favorite vino.

Know the Right Pour:

This is key. An average glass of wine should be between 4 to 5 ounces, or about a half a cup. If you have a heavy-handed pourer in your family (in mine it’s my brother), you could end up with a huge glass of wine and be consuming double the amount of calories you think you are. Try pouring your wine into a measuring cup one evening before you pour it into your glass to give yourself an idea of what a serving size looks like. And there’s a bonus – by leaving a bit more room for swirling your wine around in the glass, it will give you the opportunity to spend more time enjoying the aromas.

Know What’s In Your Glass:

How many calories in your glass? In general, you can assume there are about 25 calories in an ounce of wine – so between 100 and 125 in your half cup. But there is a little bit of variation in that because the exact amount of calories will depend on how much residual sugar and alcohol there is in the wine. Keep in mind: the higher the alcohol content, the higher the calories. Overall, drier and lighter-style wines are lower in calories than sweet or big, alcoholic ones. And don’t forget that a glass of Champagne or sparkling wine can be a good choice during the holidays.  Not only is it enjoyable to sip slowly, but it is also the type of wine that can go well with both appetizers and a main course.

Choose the Right Wine:

If you really want to know the exact breakdown of different wines when it comes to calories, you can check out the USDA’s Nutrient Data Laboratory website. Overall though, the differences in calories between wine types aren’t huge, so if you prefer a big, ripe full-bodied high alcohol wine, it’s fine.  Just be mindful of serving size and calories from other sources.  And when it comes to sweet and dessert wines, while these do generally have more calories than other wines, they can be a good substitute for calorie-dense pastries. So if offered the choice, a small glass of Port or Sauternes could end up being a much better choice than a big slice of pie – just beware of having both.

Slow Down, Sip and Savor:

While there is more beer in a bottle to “last” you longer, remember that wine has fewer calories and carbohydrates. And wine is also typically lower in calories than a lot of mixed drinks. While most diet gurus warn us that the most dangerous part of having a drink or two at a party is that it lowers your will power when it comes to food, I think one way to deal with this is to try to focus on just how long you can savor and enjoy a glass of wine. Too often we rush through our food and drinks, and given the hustle and bustle of the holidays, perhaps we can look at a glass of wine as an opportunity to slow down and appreciate the moment – it might just allow for you to have your wine and drink it too.

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