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

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The amount of calories in a glass of wine or alcoholic beverage depends on its serving size, and the drink’s alcohol and carbohydrate content. First, let’s establish serving size by using the standard drink concept.

What’s a Standard Drink?

A standard drink in the United States is any drink that contains about 14 grams of pure alcohol (about 0.6 fluid ounces or 1.2 tablespoons). Below are U.S. standard drink equivalents that in theory contain the same amount of alcohol (14 grams), and therefore create the same level of intoxication.

In the rest of this article you will find that alcohol levels often vary significantly from the guideline below and that there are some drinks that are much lower in calories than you would expect and some that are total calorie bombs. What is not discussed is whether the calories (primarily from alcohol and sugar) are good or bad. Or, is a calorie really just a calorie?.

U.S. Standard Drink Equivalents

Type of AlcoholServing SizeAlcohol By Volume
Beer12 oz. Can or Bottle5%
Malt Liquor8.5 oz. Less than a Can7%
Wine5 oz. Glass12%
Fortified Wine, like Sherry or Port3.5 oz. Glass17%
Cordial, Liqueur or Aperitif2.5 oz. Glass24%
Brandy1.5 oz. Shot40%
80 Proof Gin, Vodka, Whiskey etc.1.5 oz. Shot40%

Calories in Standard Drinks

Pure alcohol contains 7 calories per gram, which is almost twice the calories of carbohydrate or protein (both contain about 4 calories per gram), but its not quite as bad as the calories in fat (9 calories per gram). Therefore, a standard drink that contains 14 grams of alcohol, will have at least 98 calories.

Calories in Beer

Type of BeerServing SizeAlcohol (grams)Carbs (grams)Calories
Regular Beer12 oz.1412.6148
Budweiser12 oz.1410.6140
Light Beer12 oz.115.8100
Bud Light12 oz.11.84.6101
Budweiser Select12 oz.12.13.197
Michelob Ultra12 oz.11.72.692

Note: Light Beer at about 4% ABV is not quite 1 standard drink in a 12 oz. serving and Ultra Light Beer at sub-3% ABV is even less so. In terms of caloric content, ultra light beers like Bud Select 55 and MGD 64 speak for themselves. But at what point do ultra light beers stop being beer?

Calories in Malt Liquor

Type of AlcoholServing SizeAlcohol (grams)Carbs (grams)Calories
Malt Liquor8.5 oz.148130
Malt Liquor12 oz.19.611.3182
Malt Liquor40 oz.65.337.6608

Note: Malt Liquor is unique in that it is typically served in non-standard sizes. At 7% ABV, malt liquor is hardly the most alcoholic beverage available, but a 40 oz. bottle is absurd.

Calories in Wine

Type of WineServing SizeAlcohol (grams)Carbs (grams)Calories
Table Wine5 oz.15.44124
Light Table Wine5 oz.9.51.773

Note: A standard 750ml bottle is about 25 fluid ounces, which contains 5 (5 oz.) glasses of wine.

Calories in White Wine

Type of WineServing SizeAlcohol (grams)Carbs (grams)Calories
White Table Wine5 oz.15.13.8121
Chardonnay5 oz.15.73.2123
Chenin Blanc5 oz.14.24.9119
Fume Blanc5 oz.15.43.3121
Gewurztraminer (late harvest wines not included)5
oz.
14.83.8119
Muller Thurgau5 oz.13.35.2114
Muscat (late harvest wines not included)5 oz.13.27.9124
Pinot Blanc5 oz.15.62.9121
Pinot Gris (Grigio)5 oz.15.73122
Riesling (American, Kabinett-style, Medium Dry or Half-Dry)5 oz.14.15.5121
Riesling (German, Kabinett, Off-Dry or Semi-Sweet)5 oz.11.76.8109
Riesling (German, Kabinett, Sweet)5 oz.8.811.3107
Sauvignon Blanc5 oz.15.43120
Semillon (late harvest wines not included)5 oz.14.84.6122

Note: The Alcohol by Volume (ABV) of wine can vary by several percentage points depending on grape variety, type of wine being made (e.g. dry, off-dry, dessert or late harvest wines) and vineyard location. For example, a kabinett-style Riesling (meaning the grapes were picked at the normal picking time, and are therefore not late harvest) can be as low as 7% ABV, but unlikely to exceed 11% ABV in Germany because of the cold climate and German regulations on must weight (i.e. ripeness of grapes). American Riesling, however, grown in a warmer climate can reach 12% ABV, but is unlikely to be much more than that (see above).

In addition, to balance the acid in German Riesling, traditionally the Germans made low alcohol wines with relatively high residual sugar. For example, a kabinett-style Riesling with 7.5% ABV (which is quite common) would average a residual sugar measurement of about 55 grams/liter (8.3 grams per 5 oz. glass), once again because must weight is regulated. However, do not confuse residual sugar with total carbohydrate in the wine. In addition to residual sugar wine has on average 20 grams/liter dry extract, or 3 grams per 5 oz. glass.

According to European Union regulations, anything above 45 grams/liter is considered sweet (but not necessarily dessert wine), anything 18-45 g/l is considered off-dry or semi-sweet. The result of a German kabinett-style wine with 7.5% ABV is a technically sweet wine that tastes off-dry (because of high acidity), with low calories (see above).

Calories in Red Wine

Type of WineServing SizeAlcohol (grams)Carbs (grams)Calories
Red Table Wine5 oz.15.63.8124
Barbera5 oz.15.64.1126
Bordeaux (Claret)5 oz.154.4123
Burgundy5 oz.15.25.5128
Cabernet Franc5 oz.15.63.6124
Cabernet Sauvignon5 oz.15.43.8123
Carignane5 oz.13.73.5110
Gamay5 oz.14.43.5115
Lemberger5 oz.153.6119
Merlot5 oz.15.63.7124
Mouvedre5 oz.16.53.9131
Petite Sirah5 oz.15.73.9126
Pinot Noir5 oz.15.33.4121
Sangiovese5 oz.163.9128
Syrah5 oz.15.43.8123
Zinfandel5 oz.16.34.2131

Note: Gamay is the grape used to make the French wine Beaujolais and Beaujolais Nouveau. Although Beaujolais is usually very close to 12% ABV, it’s low calorie for a red wine.

Calories in Champagne or Sparkling Wine

Type of WineServing SizeAlcohol (grams)Carbs (grams)Calories
Dry Champagne or Sparkling Wine (e.g. Extra Brut, Brut)5 oz.144.5116
Slightly Sweet Sparkling Wine (e.g. Asti Spumante)5 oz.8.8998
Sweet Sparkling Wine (e.g. Moscato d'Asti)5 oz.6.417.3114

Note: Sweet (unfortified) wine is usually lower in alcohol than dry wine. To be considered sweet (doux or dulce), a sparkling wine must have more than 50 grams/liter residual sugar (i.e. sugar not used in fermentation, thus lower alcohol level) or 7.5 grams per 5 oz. glass. Slightly sweet (Demi-Sec, Semi-seco) is 32-50 grams/liter. However, the alcohol level depends on the wine and type of grapes used.

For example, Asti Spumante a sweet sparkling wine from the Piedmont region of Italy by law must be 7-9% ABV and 3-5% residual sugar (30-50 grams/liter) or an average of 6 grams per 5 oz. glass, making it a slightly sweet sparkling wine. In addition, sugar is not the only carbohydrate present in the wine, on average wine has 10-30 grams/liter dry extract, or 3 grams per 5 oz. glass. Therefore, even with twice the carb grams of dry Champagne, a 5 oz. serving is under 100 calories.

Also from the Piedmont region of Italy, Moscato d’Asti is a sweeter, lower alcohol wine with 5-6% ABV and 70-120 grams/liter residual sugar (getting into dessert wine territory), making it doux or dulce, but only slightly sparkling since it is frizzante not spumante. In this case, there is not much of a calorie advantage to this low-alcohol wine because of the very high residual sugars. If you want low calorie, stay away from dry and dessert wines and stick with off-dry and slightly sweet wines.

Calories in Late Harvest Wines

Type of WineServing SizeAlcohol (grams)Carbs (grams)Calories
All Late Harvest (American, botrytized, Dessert*)5 oz.13.120.6174
Gewurztraminer (American, botrytized, Dessert*)5 oz.13.517.3164
Furmint (Hungarian, Tokaji, 6 puttonyos, Dessert*)5 oz.11.735222
Furmint (Hungarian, Tokaji, Eszencia, Dessert*)5 oz.3.578337
Riesling (German, Spatlese, Off-Dry or Semi-Sweet)5 oz.147.8129
Riesling (German, Spatlese, Sweet)5 oz.8.813.5116
Riesling (German, Auslese, Sweet)5 oz.8.816.5128
Riesling (German, Auslese Goldkapsel, Dessert*)5 oz.8.818.8137
Riesling (German, Beerenauslese, Dessert*)5 oz.7.627161
Riesling (German, Eiswein, Dessert*)5 oz.7.726.5160
Riesling (German, Trockenbeerenauslese, Dessert*)5 oz.741.6216
Semillon / Sauvignon Blanc (French, Sauternes, Dessert*)5 oz.15.825.5213

* Dessert refers to a sweet wine that should be consumed by itself or paired with a sweet treat after the main meal.

Note: In the United States, any wine made with grapes affected to some degree by Botrytis Cinera (Noble Rot) is considered Late Harvest. However in Germany, late harvest refers to anything harvested after normal picking time (Spatlese basically means late harvest) and may or may not contain grapes affected by botrytis. In Germany, not all late harvest wines are sweet (i.e. exceed 45 grams/liter residual sugar), and even if they are, they should not always be considered a dessert wine (i.e. something sweet to be enjoyed after the main meal) as they often pair very well with spicy cuisine.

However, the term dessert wine does cause a lot of confusion. In the United States, a wine labeled late harvest qualifies as a dessert wine in the context of a sweet treat enjoyed after the main meal, but technically cannot be labelled as such because in the USA dessert wine refers to wines that exceed 14% ABV. In the USA dessert wine is not a measure of sweetness or residual sugar, but the amount of alcohol in the wine. So, a dry red Zinfindel or Amarone (which can be very bitter), and all fortified wines whether dry or sweet are technically dessert wines.

Calories in Fortified Wine

Type of AlcoholServing SizeAlcohol (grams)Carbs (grams)Calories
Dry Sherry3.5 oz.1412146
Port3.5 oz.1414154
Pedro Ximenez Sherry3.5 oz.1424.3195

Note: Fortified wine has alcohol added to it, usually a distilled beverage like Brandy. In the United States all fortified wines whether dry or sweet are technically dessert wines.

Calories in Liqueurs

Type of AlcoholServing SizeAlcohol (grams)Carbs (grams)Calories
Amaretto2.5 oz.1442266
Bailey's Irish Cream2.5 oz.9.918141
B & B Benedictine2.5 oz.25.113228
Campari2.5 oz.1420178
Coffee Liqueur (e.g. Kahlua)2.5 oz.11.740242
Cointreau2.5 oz.23.325263
Creme de Cacao2.5 oz.1437246
Creme de Cassis2.5 oz.11.728194
Creme de Menthe2.5 oz.1435238
Grand Marnier2.5 oz.23.317231
Kirsch2.5 oz.23.315223
Ouzo2.5 oz.23.327271
Sambuca2.5 oz.24.528284
Triple Sec2.5 oz.1427206

Note: The ABV of drinks in this category are all over the place and frequently equal or exceed 80 proof hard liquor.

Calories in Distilled Beverages

Type of AlcoholServing SizeAlcohol (grams)Carbs (grams)Calories
Brandy1.5 oz.14098
80 Proof Gin, Vodka, Whiskey1.5 oz.14098
86 Proof Gin, Vodka, Whiskey1.5 oz.15.10106
90 Proof Gin, Vodka, Whiskey1.5 oz.15.80111
94 Proof Gin, Vodka, Whiskey1.5 oz.16.50116
100 Proof Gin, Vodka, Whiskey1.5 oz.17.50123

Note: All distilled spirits contain zero carbohydrate grams.

Calories in Cocktails

Type of AlcoholServing SizeAlcohol (grams)Carbs (grams)Calories
Daiquiri2 oz.144.2115
Pina Colada4.5 oz.1432226
Mai Tai5 oz.3537.5395

For more information on the nutrients contained in alcoholic beverages, check out the USDA’s National Nutrient Database.

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