The hot new craze in wine isn’t about varietal or country or even cost. It’s about so-called “healthy” wine—wine that is good for you. Brands such as FitVine, Cupcake Light Hearted, Mind & Body and Kim Crawford Illuminate are part of a new generation of wines that promise fewer calories, less sugar and less alcohol. These new “healthier” wines have tapped into several market trends…

The backlash against added sugar that has been gathering momentum in the US for the past 20 years, and the perception that wine has added sugar.

The Keto and Paleo diet trends, which emphasize avoiding carbohydrates— something wine has, thanks to its alcohol.

The demand from younger consumers for healthier options, even for alcohol.

But the question is, are these wines actually “healthier”? The facts…

These wines have fewer calories and less alcohol than traditional wines. But that is because most of wine’s calories come from the alcohol, so a glass of a lower-alcohol wine may have about 90 calories, as opposed to 125 calories for a glass of traditional wine. To reduce the alcohol content, many of these wines are manipulated using a process called “ spinning cone technology.” The fermented grape juice is placed in a huge cone that spins at a high speed, separating the alcohol from the grape juice. Then, some alcohol is added back to the grape juice. So wine that starts out with 13½% alcohol can be reduced to 9% or 10% alcohol.

The claims about sugar and sulfites are more difficult to pin down. Most of the “healthy” wines come from California. While sugar occurs naturally in grapes, it’s illegal to add sugar during the winemaking process in California.

Sulfites are added to wine as a preservative— white wines usually get more than reds. Some wine drinkers are sensitive to sulfites and may get headaches, but sulfites occur naturally in wine and minimal additional amounts are added.

Almost all wine is gluten-free and vegan—not just the “healthy” ones. Grapes and yeast, after all, are naturally gluten-free…and almost all wine is vegan—made of grapes and yeast.

Your best bet? Find a wine that you like, drink it in moderation…and the rest will take care of itself.

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