Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Calorie Content in Alcohol: Do We Really Want To Know?

A few years ago, consumers who were “counting calories” sent up a plea to the Food and Drug Administration that wine, beer and other alcohol products list the number of calories per serving on the label.

With the arrival of 2016, over 20 restaurant chains have complied. According to the Food and Drug Administration’s ruling, the amount of calories in alcoholic drinks must be listed long with other foods on the menu. But there are a few exceptions.

If you order a drink from the bar menu, you can escape “calorie guilt” because those menus are not required to list the calories. Neither are wine lists. And so far, most bottles and cans of adult beverages do not come with a full list of nutritional information.

The FDA is permitting restaurants to estimate the number of calories in that glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, Long Island Iced Tea, or mug of beer since it would be very difficult to list the current caloric number for every wine, beer and mixed drink out there.

After all, each wine vintage and varietal is different just as every craft brew is styled in a different manner. While bartenders mix drinks from a basic recipe, many add or subtract an ingredient putting their own regional spin on a libation. How do you possibly account for the exact calorie count in every variation, each new harvest, and every new batch of spirits? 

It seems that broad, generalized calorie labels may be the best the FDA and consumers can hope for. With that in mind, here are a few generalized caloric numbers from the USDA to keep in mind next time you order your favorite wine.


~ Joy