Sugar Free Wine Brands: Are There Any?

Sometimes, especially around different times of the year, like when making our New Year’s Resolutions, people start looking to cut back on sugar. And sugar free wine is one way to do that. So, you start looking for sugar free wine brands. Are there any? Of course there are. But before we get into what they are, let’s get into what they are and whether they matter.

Sugar and Wine

Look, the truth is there is no such thing as sugar free wine. You cannot make alcohol without sugar.

In wine, the grapes used to make this beverage are rich in sugar. In fact, they are even sweeter than table grapes. Why? Because you need sugar to make alcohol, and wine has a lot of alcohol, at least compared to beer, which often has less than half the ABV that wine has.

To make wine, the sweetest varietals of grapes are chosen at their ripest point. To understand how sweet these grapes are, you can look at the average original gravity reading of grape must.

Water with nothing in it has a gravity reading of 1.0.

Once wine grapes are crushed and the seeds and skins are removed, the must typically has an original gravity reading between 1.7 and 1.9. The increase in gravity is due to all the sugar. The average glass of grape juice has about 36 grams of sugar. That’s a lot of sugar!

Now you have a sugar rich must and yeast is added. The yeast cells, living organisms forever in search of sugar, get right to work consuming all of the sugar in the must. In exchange, they expel alcohol and carbon dioxide, along with hundreds of secondary metabolites that add to aroma, flavor, and nutrient levels of wine. These are all the waste products, or what yeast converts the sugar into.

Only a week or two after the yeast first enters the must, you’ll have wine.

Now, depending on whether you stop the fermentation process or let it play itself out, you may have more or less residual sugar. But in an ideal situation, you allow yeast to complete fermentation and it will leave you with very little residual sugar, especially if you allow for secondary fermentation, which is when yeast get activated again and “mop up” anything they left behind, while also smoothing out the flavors and aromas in the wine.

The average glass of red wine has less than a gram of residual sugar in it. The average glass of white wine may reach up to 2% or 3%. Still very little sugar compared to soda or juice.

How Do You Make Sugar Free Wine?

The truth then is that most wines that run their course of fermentation can be considered sugar free wine. Why? Because the general rule for sugar free wine brands is that they must have less than a gram of sugar per liter. This can certainly be true of most red wines, and it is a natural process for yeast to complete fermentation and clean up all the sugar.

At the same time, if you are looking at sweeter wines like moscatos or even champagnes, where the fermentation is halted or sugar is added during secondary fermentation, you can end up with a tremendous amount of sugar, up to 100 grams per bottle. This is because sugar is added and yeast are not allowed to complete the process.

But most typical wines —- whites and reds —- are going to be very close to sugar free.

To make what many brands catering to the sugar free crowd today are doing is ensuring the yeast cleans up all the residual sugar, to the point of adding more yeast if necessary, so that they can call their wine “zero sugar” wine.

But in most cases this title is like “non-alcoholic” beer, which still has trace amounts of alcohol, because you can’t make beer without producing some alcohol. So, really, they are low alcohol beers.

And zero sugar wine is low sugar wine.

But, of course, almost all wine is low sugar wine.

So, you might say you are being sold a marketing trick.

Sugar Free Wine Brands

None of this is to say that sugar free wine brands don’t make excellent wines. Some of them are quite good.

Like with anything you consume, just be wary of labels and check for mass produced, cheaply made wines, which, sugar or no, will have additives, sulfites, and other ingredients that can leave you feeling worse than if you had just had a nice glass of organic red.

Folly of the Beast has a good Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, full of flavor and low in sugar.

Fitvine has a low cal, low sugar Chardonnay and a Cabernet Sauvignon that have received much acclaim from wine lovers. They also have a bubbly sparkling wine if you’re looking for a celebration wine.

And of course, there are dozens of others competing for your attention, but those are two popular, award-winning starts to your journey.

And if you’re in the business of making a sugar-free wine, you can’t go wrong taking a page out of the books of one of these guys.

Remember, the key is to simply let the yeast cells do their job. You’ll end up with a low sugar wine when you were trying to or not.


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