Is it good for you or only the producers

Dieters can now enjoy their wine guilt-free without the hangover. So-called low-alcohol and low-calorie or “light” wines promise this. These wines aren’t much lighter than regular wines (between a quarter to a third fewer calories) and could actually encourage people to drink more.

Consumers are increasingly looking for lighter wine products. For example, Australia’s Lindeman’s wines have been successfully marketing early harvest wines to consumers looking for a drink with lower alcohol and fewer calories for the past five years.

The light wine of another brand, produced with de-alcoholizing technology, has had more success. The wine reportedly tasted inferior to regular wine.

Diet wine is on the rise.

Weight Watchers has reported 1.8 million Australians as members. In 2010, Australia’s McWilliams Wine Group was the first company in Australia to receive exclusive endorsement. Weight Watchers points are equal to one standard glass of wine.

McWilliams claims that its Balance wines have an alcohol content between 8% and 8.5%, which is one-third less than regular alcohol. The kilojoules are one-third less (ranging between 228 kj and 264 kj in the case of its sparkling wine and 324 kj and 264 kj in the case of its shiraz).

Australian producers now sell low-alcohol wine to weight-conscious people in North America and Britain. McWilliam’s was Weight Watcher’s light wine partner in the United Kingdom last year. This partnership allowed McWilliam’s to capitalize on a market that is estimated to be worth 12 million bottles of wine per year.

This week, Australia’s largest wine company, Accolade Wines, and its fellow exporter, Treasury Wine Estates, announced new low-cost “light” wines for the United States. Both companies market directly to Weight Watchers members.

According to one company that produces the wines, about one-fifth of Americans are on a weight loss diet. Over 70% of Australian women also want to lose weight, and wine is the drink of choice.

If they are successfully marketed towards the diet-conscious customer, “light” wine can be a big business.

Origins and virtues

Early harvesting of grapes can produce light wines. Early-harvest grapes and wines from cooler climates have lower alcohol levels without losing flavor. These wines contain around 25% less alcohol while still maintaining reasonable sensory qualities.

Light wine can be used to compensate for calories saved by eating more food. Uncalno Tekno

After the wine has been made, industrial processing is required to reduce the kilojoule content (energy) by a third. The technology for this has existed since the 1980s, and the wine industry has been interested in this since the 1990s. However, the early wines made this way were met with scorn by winemakers and wine lovers alike.

Since then, reverse-osmosis technologies have improved to filter wine under pressure through a porous membrane. This method is less heating than previous technologies. It preserves the flavor and allows the industry to exploit the potential market for low-alcohol wine fully.

A “diet” version of wine may appear to be a socially and fiscally responsible move on the part of wine producers. Drinking light wine is not harmful as long as it’s consumed in a controlled manner.

The National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC) has developed guidelines for alcohol consumption . One standard glass is 100 milliliters of white wine, which contains 11.4% alcohol. A similar volume of red wine, which has 13.5% alcohol. The safe daily consumption is two standard drinks for both men and women.

The NHMRC does not have any guidelines on how to consume light wine, unlike the long-established light beer. The aggressive marketing of more delicate wines, combined with the lack of official guidelines, could be dangerous for consumers.

Most of the energy in wine (kilojoules) comes from alcohol. A small amount of it is carbohydrates in the form of sugars. The energy reduction from 372 to 228 kj in a standard sparkling is negligible (equivalent to half an apple). However, wine labeled as “light” or “low kilojoule” may give the impression to people who are trying to lose weight that they can eat more or drink more with the “savings.”

Some people compensate for the kilojoules saved by drinking light wine and eating more food. The marketing of low-fat foods, which still contain high kilojoules, has also been observed. Are believed to contribute to the obesity epidemic.

Second, light wines could encourage excessive drinking in a nation that is already prone to alcohol abuse. It may also promote excessive consumption of a product with negligible nutritional value, which can be harmful.

There is an urgent need to create guidelines for “light” wine consumption. Be careful when you’re raising a glass of wine this weekend. Diet wines can have their negative effects.

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