One of the biggest questions most people ask when they start a low-carb or keto diet is: Can you drink alcohol? The answer is, it depends.
You might already know that low-carb alcoholic drinks like vodka and tequila are fine in small amounts on the ketogenic diet, but what about wine? For all you wine lovers out there, this article should clear up everything you need to know about keto wine.
Most wines have a high sugar content and will send your insulin and blood sugar levels out of control. But there are some keto-friendly wine options.
You may have heard that it’s best to stick to “dry” wines while on a keto diet, but you might not know what that means.
What Makes a Wine “Dry”?
What is a “dry wine” and can both red and white wines be dry?
A wine is considered “dry” if it contains less than 10 grams of sugar per bottle. But without nutrition information printed on the bottle or the menu, how can you tell which wines are lower in sugar?
First, you have to understand that sugar in wine has a specific function. During the fermentation process, the yeasts feed on the natural sugar from the grapes to produce ethanol (or alcohol).
Because of this, the result doesn’t contain as much sugar as it did in the beginning when it was a mash of grapes. But that doesn’t mean wine is sugar-free.
Sweet wines, as opposed to dry ones, have a much shorter fermentation process. Since the yeast does not have a chance to consume all the sugar, more of it gets left behind. This leftover sugar contributes to the sweet, fruity flavor, and as a result, you’ll find more carbs in each glass or bottle.
That’s why you’ll always want to look for the phrase “dry wine” when choosing a wine.
What About Biodynamic Wine?
Biodynamic wines may also be lower in sugar. A wine is biodynamic when it’s grown according to a specific set of farming practices that are even more stringent than the organic label requires.
Biodynamic farms use beyond-sustainable practices that leave the land in better shape than when they started. That means chemical fertilizers and pesticides are out of the question and all plants and animals work in tandem to create a fertile environment with rich topsoils.
Looking for biodynamic or dry-farmed wines are the two easiest ways to distinguish keto wines from non-keto wines, whether you’re at a restaurant or choosing a wine at the liquor store or supermarket.
Some brands will also show you the residual sugar amounts — or what’s left over after fermentation — but this can be harder to find. Toward the end of this guide, you’ll see which brand does this well.
But since most of this information is unavailable, it helps to know which types of low-carb wines you can safely sip.
On top of looking for the words “dry wine” in the description, you can also filter out wines by knowing which specific types are naturally lower in sugar.
7 Best Overall Red and White Low-Carb Wines
If you need a quick reference for the top red and white keto wines, these are the best (in order of lowest net carbs to highest). It is nearly impossible to find a wine with zero carbs or sweeteners, but these provide viable options.
1. Sauvignon Blanc
Despite its almost sweet crispness, sauvignon blanc contains the least amount of carbs and sugars, making it a top dry keto wine to choose.
In just one glass of sauvignon blanc, you’ll find only 3 grams of carbs[*].
While both sauvignon blanc and chardonnay are considered dry wines, the former is a light-bodied wine and the latter is just the opposite: a full-bodied wine.
Despite this difference, a glass of chardonnay will run you 3.2 grams of carbs, just slightly above a sauvignon blanc, but not by much[*].
3. Pinot Noir
As the first red on the top keto wines list, pinot noir isn’t too far off from a glass of chardonnay with just 3.4 grams of carbs per serving size[*].
5. Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet sauvignon may not be the absolute lowest in carbs, but at 3.8 grams per 5 oz. glass, it’s still a decently dry red wine for anyone following a ketogenic diet[*].
6. Pinot Grigio
A glass of pinot grigio will set you back around the same amount of carbs as a glass of cabernet sauvignon[*]. And if you’re in the mood for a white wine, pinot grigio and pinot blanc are about equal nutritionally.
7. Pinot Blanc
Pinot blanc, which closely resembles a pinot grigio, also clocks in at 3.8 grams of carbs per serving[*].
You may have noticed there isn’t much of a difference between the carb counts in these top seven keto-friendly wines. Each glass from this list ranges between 3 and 3.8 grams of carbs.
However, you will see a much different picture when you compare these seven to the rest of the wines out there.
8 Red Keto Wines Ranked By Net Carbs
Here’s how the most popular red wines stack up against each other (in order of lowest to highest carbs):
- Pinot noir: 3.4 grams of carbs per 5 ounces[*]
- Merlot: 3.7 grams of carbs[*]
- Cabernet sauvignon: 3.8 grams of carbs[*]
- Syrah: 4 grams of carbs[*]
- Red zinfandel: 4.2g of carbs[*]
- Port wine: 9 grams of carbs[*]
- Sherry wine: 9 grams of carbs[*]
- Red sangria: 13.8 grams of carbs per glass, plus 10 grams of sugar[*]
As you can see from the last three wines, not all red wines are a good idea on a low-carb diet. One glass of sweet red wine is enough to eat up half your carb budget for the day if you’re following a 20 grams per day approach.
What’s more, if you decide to have a second pour, you could easily kick yourself out of ketosis. It’s also not safe to assume all white wines are any better.
13 White Wines Ranked By Net Carbs
White wines can also vary in how many carbs you’re getting per glass. Here’s a breakdown of the top white wines (from lowest to highest carbs):
- Brut champagne: It can contain as little as 1.5 grams of carbs per glass
- Sauvignon Blanc: 3 grams of carbs[*]
- Chardonnay: 3.2 grams of carbs[*]
- Champagne: 3.8 grams of carbs[*]
- Prosecco: 3.8 grams of carbs[*]
- Pinot Grigio: 3.8 grams of carbs[*]
- Pinot Gris: 3.8 grams of carbs[*]
- Pinot Blanc: 3.8 grams of carbs[*]
- Sparkling White Wine: 4 grams of carbs[*]
- Riesling: 5.5 grams of carbs[*]
- Rose: 5.8 grams of carbs[*]
- White Zinfandel: 5.8 grams of carbs[*]
- Moscato: 7.8 grams of carbs[*]
- White Sangria: 14 grams of carbs per glass, plus 9.5 grams of sugar[*]
Similar to the red wine list, the white wines and sparkling wine towards the bottom of this list are anything but a safe bet on your keto diet.
Just one glass is enough to tip your carb balance out of ketosis — and most people don’t usually stop at their first drink. Keep this in mind before reaching for that glass of vino.
If you plan on drinking wine while on a keto diet, don’t order these high-carb wines:
- Red or white sangria
- Pink zinfandel
- Port/sherry wine
- Dessert wine
- Wine coolers
- Frozen wine pops
Note: Drinking alcohol like wine coolers and frozen wine pops is like consuming alcoholic sugar bombs. These drinks will certainly put you over your carb intake for the day.
If you really want to enjoy frozen bubbly, understand that it will probably kick you out of ketosis. When that happens, follow the tips in this guide to a keto reboot.
A better idea is to stick with keto-friendly wine brands, which can help lower your risk of being knocked out of ketosis altogether.
Much like companies are starting to cater to the low-carb crowd with more options for light beers, low-carb beers, and hard seltzer waters, winemakers are also taking note.
These two keto-friendly wine brands are paving the way for low-sugar and low-carb options that also taste good.
#1: Dry Farm Wines
Dry Farm Wines is the perfect solution for wine lovers who also happen to be following a ketogenic diet.
With a monthly subscription, their team will send you their best handpicked keto wines that are all-natural, low in alcohol and sulfites, free of additives, and contain just one gram of sugar or less per bottle. And since they’re on a subscription basis, your next batch of wines will show up right to your door.
FitVine is a brand dedicated to making different wines that won’t sabotage your hard work. Their wines are lower in sulfites, free of additives, and have less sugar than traditional bottles.
They also have a similar carb count to the best keto wines highlighted in this guide. FitVine’s pinot noir, for example, will run you 3.7 grams of carbs. But it has a very low .03g of residual sugar (the amount of sugar left behind after fermentation).
Even with these great keto options, you can’t drink the whole bottle or split one with a friend without potentially consuming too many carbs for the day and kicking yourself out of ketosis.
Remember, it can take just two glasses of wine to chisel away at a third of your day’s total carb count. While this may be OK every once in a while, if you’re struggling to reach or maintain ketosis, it’s best to lower your alcohol intake, or eliminate it entirely to reach your goals.
And that’s not the only thing to consider.
While you can certainly drink alcohol on a keto diet, you may want to reconsider doing so for the following reasons:
- The effects of alcohol makes it easier to overeat and drink more. The higher the alcohol content, the more likely you are to sabotage ketosis.
- Alcohol consumption switches off your fat burning potential. Your body prioritizes getting the alcohol out of your system over using your fat for energy. This may slow down or even stall weight loss and ketone production[*].
- You may have a lower alcohol tolerance. There are many anecdotal reports of lower tolerance and worse hangovers when you’re running off ketones.
Even though it’s fine to weave a drink into your weekly keto meal plan here and there — especially a glass of low-carb wine — it shouldn’t be something you do every day. Especially if weight loss is your goal.
Yes, there’s some evidence that wine has some health benefits. But if you’re drinking more wine for the antioxidant benefits, you may be better off with a non-alcoholic source like berries or colorful, low-carb veggies.
Refer to This Keto Wine Guide When Pouring Yourself a Glass
Wine, when enjoyed in moderation, is compliant with keto. That said, you should educate yourself on which glasses of wine contain the least (and most) amount of carbs and sugar.
If you decide to treat yourself to a glass of wine occasionally, remember to stick to the lower carb wines you’ll find in these categories:
- Sauvignon blanc
- Pinot noir
- Cabernet sauvignon
- Pinot grigio
- Pinot blanc
Bookmark this page so you can always refer to it when you’re in the mood for a glass of keto wine. You can also learn more low-carb drinking tips in this guide to drinking alcohol on the keto diet.