Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

If wine had nutrition labels: A glass is OK, but grapes are much healthier

Wine contains antioxidants. Yet recent data suggests you need a bottle or two of red wine a day to impact your health, which is definitely not recommended.

Robyn Mackenzie/Getty Images/iStockphoto

They are on everything from canned tuna to condiments, but nutrition labels don't mark any of the alcoholic beverages lining liquor-store walls.

If these labels were required by law, they would list no fat, sodium or protein, and very little sugar for anything that isn't a cooler. There is less than a teaspoon of the sweet stuff in a 140-millilitre serving of red wine.

But labels would boast calories and often carbohydrates. A 40-ml serving of wine or spirits has about 100 calories, while 340 ml of beer has 140 calories. Beer, wine, cider and any other drink made by fermentation will always have some carbs – an average beer has 12 grams, which is equal to a skinny slice of bread.

Story continues below advertisement

While a serving of beer carries the most calories and carbohydrates, if it is made with barley so it will also contain a little fibre. Most beer can also brag about vitamins.

"A [340-ml] brewski supplies somewhere around 3 to 15 per cent of our daily requirement of vitamin B12, and around 10 to 12 per cent of vitamin B6," says Dr. Peter Jones, Canada Research Chair in Nutrition and Functional Foods.

But don't to turn to beer to get your daily dose. Anything more than moderate drinking will actually interfere with the absorption of these same vitamins.

Wine contains antioxidants such as resveratrol. Yet recent data suggests that you need to drink a bottle or two of red wine a day to obtain enough resveratrol to impact your health, which is definitely not recommended, Jones says.

"We can get resveratrol and other antioxidants from lots of other fruits," says Kate Comeau, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for Dietitians of Canada. "For example, a handful of grapes would be a better option, a healthier option, to find that antioxidant. I would not rely on alcoholic beverages to meet our nutrient needs."

Report an error Licensing Options

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at