With around 20% of Americans on a diet, low-calorie wine brands are booming in the US, and particularly where celebrities are involved.
The Skinny Vine is endorsed by Christine Avanti, a celebrity nutritionist and author of Skinny Chicks Eat Real Food
Kick-starting the trend was Skinnygirl, which, as previously reported by db, was a label created in 2009 initially for ready-made cocktails by chef, author and TV star Bethenny Frankel.
The brand now also includes a range of three wines, which were added to the line-up in March 2012 (following the sale of the label to Fortune Brands/Beam for US$8.1 million in March 2011).
More recently, in January this year, former Foster’s wine division Treasury Wine Estates launched The Skinny Vine in the US, backed up by Christine Avanti, a celebrity nutritionist and author of Skinny Chicks Eat Real Food (pictured, left).
According to the company, the new product has already sold 100,000 cases, half the quantity sold by Skinnygirl wines in its first year, although The Skinny Vine is cheaper, with an RRP of US$11 compared to Skinnygirl’s $15 per bottle.
The Skinny Vine also promises slightly fewer calories per serving than the Skinnygirl wine. While the latter product has 100 calories per 5-ounce serving (148ml) from its 12% abv, The Skinny Vine contains 95 calories for the same measure.
Currently, the range comprises Slim Chardonnay (8.5% abv), Mini Moscato (7.3% abv) and Thin Zin (7.5% abv).
California’s Beringer brand, part of Treasury Wine Estates, had previously tried to crack this sector in late 2004 with the launch of White Lie – a low-calorie 9.5% abv Chardonnay – but withdrew the product one year later due to a lack of interest.
In fact, the calorie savings in either Skinnygirl or The Skinny Vine aren’t particularly significant: a bottle of white wine at 13.5% abv contains around 560 calories, meaning a 5 ounce/148ml serving will provide you with approximately 112 calories – which is just a 12-17 calorie saving per glass, the equivalent of a small bag of carrot sticks.
Of course the US isn’t the only source and consumer of low-calorie wines, and as previously reported by db, the UK has a thriving low-alcohol – and therefore low-calorie – wine sector.
Driven by a lower duty rate on wines at or below 5.5%, a raft of labels have been launched for UK retailers taking the low-alcohol category to 1 million cases in 2012.
Leader among these is the 5.5% abv Café Collection from South Africa’s First Cape, followed by Banrock Station Light, although big brands such as Blossom Hill and Gallo have both recently unveiled 5.5% wine-based drinks for the UK market, as well as Blue Nun with its Delicate range extension.
Aside from these products, which are technically “wine-based drinks” and not wines, there is a growing number of lower-alcohol (as opposed to low-alcohol) wines coming onto the market, such as Jacob’s Creek Cool Harvest or McWilliams Harmony range endorsed by Weight Watchers.
Germany’s Reh Kendermann has however been producing wines under licence for Weight Watchers since 2002 and currently retail a white and rose with 8.5% abv (and 75 calories per 125 ml glass).
Furthermore, particularly dynamic in this lower-alcohol sector at present is New Zealand, above all the Marlborough wine region.
Already available in New Zealand, Marlborough’s Brancott Estate ‘Flight’ is a lower alcohol range that will be launched to the UK on- and off-trade later this year according to Adrian Atkinson, wine development director at brand owner Pernod Ricard.
Chef, author and TV star Bethenny Frankel created the Skinnygirl drinks brand in 2009 initially for ready-made cocktails
This will join longstanding 9.5% abv The Doctor’s Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough’s Forrest winery and newcomers such as the same region’s “First Pick” – a 9% abv offering from Constellation-owned Kim Crawford – and the 9% abv “Bella” Sauvignon Blanc from Invivo Wines.
Of course, it should be added that there are plenty of traditional, naturally lower-alcohol wines produced worldwide, from Mosel Rieslings to Vinho Verde or English Bacchus. There’s also always the home-made solution with the white wine spritzer.
It should also be noted that while the booming Moscato sector offers drinkers lower alcohol levels, the high sugar levels in the wines don’t provide significantly reduced calorie counts.
Consequently, a Moscato such as Gallo’s Barefoot Moscato has a calorie content of 127 calories per 5 ounce (148ml) serving from an abv of 8.5% and 64 g/l of residual sugar. That’s actually a handful more calories than found in a standard abv dry white wine.
Finally, for those wanting to work out just how many calories there are in a measure of wine, one alcohol unit is measured as 10ml or approximately 8g of pure alcohol, and alcohol has 7 calories per gram. This means one unit has 56 calories.
To work out the number of units in a drink, multiply the volume (in ml) by the alcohol content (in %) and then divide by 1000 – so, a 750ml bottle of 13.5% wine is 750×13.5/1000 = 10.125 units.
Over the following pages are db‘s top 10 low-calorie wine brands, ranked according to their scale, awareness and, primarily, calorie content.