I wonder how many of us think about wine calories when we make the decision to have a glass with dinner. I must admit that I don’t really think about them – that’s not to say that I don’t care, but as my evening routine includes either a spinning class or a 30 minute jog more often than not, wine calories are the last thing on my mind by the time I pop the cork. In fact, I have EARNED those wine calories. Mind you, despite my exercise regime, I don’t ever seem to be losing weight, but rather fending off the excess that comes with middle age. Many of my friends are experiencing a similar kind of anti-diet at the moment (anti-diet – I couldn’t think of a better term for a diet whose success is defined not by weight loss but by failure to gain weight). I wondered whether investigating wine calories would make a difference to our apathetic approach to health – if we knew the truth, would we be motivated to drink less wine?
Searching on the internet for facts about this topic will scare you to your very core. It seems the best way to get the message across to us negligent drinkers is to compare the calories we ingest through wine to something terrifying that the more health conscious among us would probably want to avoid. The Drink Aware website informed me that a large glass of white wine (250ml) with 13% ABV would add 228 calories to my evening meal – and also informed me that is the equivalent of a Cornetto ice cream, or two fish fingers. Oh dear, I thought. There are only two foods that I actively avoid because of calories – one of them is ice cream.
There’s more. A standard (175ml) glass of red or white wine – 160 calories – is equivalent to a slice of Madeira cake. Now, while it doesn’t specify whether this is a wafer thin slice of Madeira cake or the kind of cuboid chunk my grandmother used to present to me and my sister when we went to visit, but I think the point is that Madeira cake is known for being quite rich and fattening.
And that’s not it. How many of us don’t stop at one glass? If you’re drinking with your other half and have no plans to go anywhere, why not just trough the whole bottle? Well, how about because the 340 calories that you would consume by having half a bottle is equivalent to a pain au chocolat pastry? (At this point, I ought to mention that the other food whose calories frighten me is pastry.)
I didn’t just look at the Drink Aware website, although I have used their statistics here because I trust them as a reliable source. In fact, you could trawl the net for hours and find all sorts of comparisons between fatty foods and calories in drinks. I have to admit that even though the comparisons with foods had more of an impact on me than the number of calories, I still went out and bought a bottle of wine at lunchtime. As a gesture though, I made an extra effort to walk to the supermarket that is a bit further away so I could get a bit more exercise in, and while I was there I went and glowered at the pastries in a judgmental fashion. And later on, I went to my spinning class, remembering to put the bottle of white I bought in the fridge first so I could open it when I got back.
Sometimes I think it would be nice to lose a little weight – people always notice when you have shed a few pounds and it is nice to be told you are looking good. Sometimes I wish that my cravings for ice cream and pastry didn’t usually emerge until I am on my second glass of wine. And sometimes when this happens, I often wish that there wasn’t a Co-Op two minutes’ walk from my house that is open until 10pm.
Only sometimes though.
Mostly I am happy just to shove a bottle into the fridge to open when I get back from spinning or jogging. Mostly I am happy with not gaining weight, rather than having a desire to lose any. Mostly I can ignore my post-wine pastry craving, but if I decide just to go with it, I won’t beat myself up. And if I decide to drink less, it will probably be on account of the alcohol rather than the calories. But that’s just me.