Beer vs. Wine Calorie Count

Overview

If you are watching your calorie intake, the average beer or wine label is of little help. Unlike most packaged food products, beer and wine producers in the United States are not required to display standard nutritional information such as calories per serving and serving size. Although a few light beer manufacturers tout comparatively low calorie counts on their packaging, for most beer and wine products, this information is not easily available.

Table and Sparkling Wine

The calorie count for a serving of wine is relatively consistent across brands and styles. Most standard white and red table wines like merlot, cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel, chardonnay and riesling fall between 110 and 120 calories for a 5-oz. serving. Dry Champagne and similar sparkling wines tend to be around 116 calories per serving.

Desert Wine

Sweet and dessert wines tend to have substantially higher calories per serving than table and sparkling wines. For example, sweet sparkling wine averages around 138 calories, and sweet late harvest wines average around 178 calories, both for a 5-oz. pour. Port averages 154 calories, and dry sherry averages around 146 calories per 3.5-oz. serving.

Beer

Unlike wine, beers are quite dissimilar in calorie count. The amount of calories in a given beer primarily correlates to the amount of alcohol in the beer, which has 7 calories per gram. Unlike most table wines, which tend to fall between 12 percent to 16 percent alcohol by volume and have relatively consistent calories per serving, beer can vary widely depending on style. For example, a standard American lager such as Budweiser contains 145 calories and 5 percent alcohol by volume. A barleywine style ale such as Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, however, contains 9.6 percent alcohol by volume and 330 calories. Most beers will give the amount of alcohol by volume on the package. If you are looking to reduce your calorie intake, choose beers with the least amount of alcohol.

Light Beer

Low-calorie or “light” beer first became available in the late 1960s with the introduction of Gablinger’s Diet Beer by Rheingold Brewing Company. Featuring 25 percent to 40 percent fewer calories than other “full-calorie” beers, “light” beers tend to have 95 to 110 calories per 12-oz. serving.

Ultra-Light Beer

Recently, “ultra-light” beers were introduced by some American macro-brewers. These typically have even fewer calories than standard light beers and include Budweiser’s Select 55 with 2.4 percent alcohol by volume and 55 calories per serving and Miller Genuine Draft 64 with 2.8 percent alcohol by volume and 64 calories per serving.

About this Author

Writing professionally since 2005, Kurt Schrader has also worked in the hospitality and travel industries for over 10 years. In addition to his own websites, Schrader’s writing has appeared on LIVESTRONG.COM and Answerbag. He holds a bachelor’s degree in management and master’s degree in information studies from Florida State University.