Of course we all know that alcohol has quite a few calories per gram (7, actually) — not as much as a gram of fat (9 calories) but more than a gram of carbohydrate or protein (4 calories). The hidden factor in wine consumption is the alcohol percentage in the bottles you're enjoying.
In a recent Huffington Post article, Susan Yager points out that the difference between drinking a light Vinho Verde with dinner as opposed to a heavier Cabernet could end up doubling your caloric intake. Most white wines are in the 8 to 10 percent alcohol content range. To find the calorie count, use the handy calculation of multiplying the alcohol percentage by the number of ounces per glass, and the result by 1.6 (I'm pretty sure it has something to do with The Golden Ratio). Thus you can figure that a 5-ounce glass of 8 percent Chablis has about 64 calories. On the heavy hand, that flagon of Silver Oak probably has more like 120 calories per glass, or about 610 per bottle. (Incidentally, with pricey Silver Oak that equates to about 20 cents per calorie.)
So what can you do to minimize the caloric impact of your grape escapes? First of all, be aware of what you are drinking. Most wine labels state alcohol content, but restaurant menus rarely do, so don't be afraid to ask the waiter to check the content if you are concerned. Certainly avoid syrupy Ports and fortified wines if you want to save calories for that dessert. Sorry, no Wild Irish Rose for you.
If you want a red without the guilt, consider Pinot Noirs or Grenaches. Don't believe the wine snobs who say that big, tannic California Cabs (at 15 percent alcohol or more) are the only wines worth your time and dollars. There is certainly a time and a place for those hot monster fruit bombs, but consider what Susan Yager points out in her article:
How significant is this in terms of weight loss or gain? If you hypothetically consume five glasses per week of 10 percent wine, that's 80 calories per glass or 20,800 calories a year; but if you drink five glasses of 13.5 percent wine the figure jumps to 28,080 - an extra 7,280 calories. That translates to more than two pounds a year.
Five glasses a week? Pshaw. Lightweights.