There’s a misnomer out there that wine is somehow the better adult beverage choice in terms of calories. Let’s get such silliness out of the way now, though: You know how the wine bottle is heavier before the wine goes into your mouth? When you drink wine from the bottle, that’s weight entering your body. Obviously, it’s liquid, and you have a reasonable expectation that your body is going to expel that liquid within a few hours of permitting it to flow past your epiglottis and into your stomach.
But you can’t piss it all out.
Okay, okay, I get that. But where do wine’s calories even come from?
If you’ve watched the right episodes of Prime Time Wrestling, you already know that wine comes from grapes that have been mashed and pressed, and then had all of their stems and seeds removed. So, let’s start there. There are 96 calories in a cup of freshly squeezed grape juice. You don’t really think those calories all disappear simply because the juice ferments into wine, do you? Spoiler alert: They don’t.
So, yeah, the already high-calorie grape juice is fermented, and undergoes the process of having its sweet, mild-mannered grape fluids transformed into Grapes of Wrath, which is simply a classical literary nod to the fact that yeast is added to begin the process of converting the natural sugars of the grapes into the alcohol you yearn for, and which is 90 percent of the reason you want the wine. (Don’t try to tell me otherwise.)
What’s the deal with alcohol anyway? Is it a carbohydrate or a fat?
When it comes to nutrition, alcohol is neither fish nor fowl, but its effects can be plenty foul when it comes to nutritional sabotage. As opposed to doling out four calories per gram like carbohydrates (including sugar) or nine calories per gram like dietary fat, alcohol delivers seven calories per gram. This can be extremely confusing to some people who are used to reading a traditional nutrition facts label and having everything neatly accounted for. They may peruse the label of an alcoholic beverage, multiply the carbs and protein content (both of which are expressed in grams) by four, conclude with a number below 60 and be clueless as to where the 100 other mysterious calories in the drink came from.
The answer: Pure alcohol, baby.
Okay, but alcohol calories aren’t worse than any other sort of calories, right? I mean, it’s basically the same thing as drinking a can of Mountain Dew.
In essence, your digestive system recognizes alcohol the same way NBA defenses recognize LeBron James, and those defenses do whatever they can to keep him away from the basket. Your body will throw the equivalent of a triple team at the alcohol, breaking it down into fat and acetate, and then doing its best to burn those components off first in order to get rid of them. Otherwise, it’s stored as body fat relatively quickly.
Here’s the critical part: Because your body’s defense system is triple-teaming the alcohol and doing its best to fight it off, anything that’s been paired with the alcohol — including the soda you mixed it with, or the street tacos you were chasing with your wine — is permitted to roam freely and do all sorts of damage. In other words, none of the protein, fats or carbohydrates that teamed together with the alcohol are getting burned off. As a result, they’re piling up points against your waistline at will.
It seems like the juice isn’t worth the squeeze, the fermentation or the guzzling!
Hey, you had fun during and after the drinking, didn’t you? As long as you think of wine as a once-a-week beverage and not as a twice-per-meal essential source of hydration (because it won’t work), you should be okay. However, if you’re a four-glass-per-day wine aficionado, you’re adding between 400 to 600 calories to your daily caloric intake, and adding it in a way that’s going to compromise your body’s ability to manage other nutrients.
Take heed, because you probably won’t feel nearly as sophisticated during the process of burning off those wine-derived calories as you did while you were piling them on.