My friend and colleague Michael Cervin recently penned an article for IntoWine.com, titled The Angry Liver, highlighting the health hazards of my chosen second career – namely, kind of sort of drinking for a living. He asked me to share some thoughts on the matter, which you can read in the finished article.
While most of Michael’s focus is on the hits that our livers are potentially taking by being attached to the bodies of those of us who have decided to make professional wine-related stuff our living, my quote in his article has more to do with overall health, in the form of a warning that many wine lovers conveniently like to forget: wine contains alcohol, and alcohol consumption is empty calorie intake.
This begs the question “how many empty calories?!??,” the answer to which is “it depends.” Generally, for most dry and sparkling wines, the answer is about 100 to 130 calories per 5oz glass. WebMD has a nice little infographic on this (see inset pic – click to embiggen), as well as the following helpful reminder:
“…alcohol also delivers empty calories and not many nutrients… The higher the ABV, the higher the calorie count.”
I would revise this slightly to “the higher the ABV and sugar content, the higher the calorie count” – meaning that sweeter wines (especially those with more booze, like Port) will potentially hit your waistline harder.
At this point in any such related discussion, I usually get asked “how the hell do you not weigh 300 lbs?!?” The answer is a combination of anxious temperament, genetics, and making exercise a priority (especially as the salt-and-pepper hair thing becomes more and more prominent). The moral of this short story is that wine is not a zero-sum game: there are likely several health benefits to moderate consumption, and there are definitely detriments to over-consumption (particularly to your liver and waistline).