Lo-cal wines of the weight-watching consumer

By Leslie Gevirtz

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Winemakers are luring health-conscious, weight-watching consumers to shops with low-calorie wines that are 100 calories or less per glass.

U.S. television talk show host Bethenny Frankel recently launched a line of eight wines ranging from Prosecco to a red blend under her SkinnyGirl brand. The wines are marketed as having just 100 calories for a 5-ounce (148 ml) serving and sell for $15.

She is joining other winemakers who are emphasizing the calorie count as much as the price and varietals and appealing to women, who buy 60 to 75 percent of wine, according to data from winemakers.

Treasury Wine Estates, the Australian-based company that owns Beringer, Stags’ Leap and Chateau St. Jean vineyards in California, developed its Skinny Vine brand of varietal wines last year. Their Slim Chardonnay, Thin Zin and Mini Moscato have 86 to 95 calories per 5-ounce glass and sell for under $10 a bottle.

“It’s real wine. The quality is there. We don’t skimp on the quality – just the calories,” said Nicole Carter, a spokeswoman for Treasury Wine Estates.

Most of the calories in wine come from the alcohol. The lower the alcohol content, the fewer the calories.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one 5-ounce glass of regular white wine has about 120 calories. Most still white wines have about 12 to 13.5 percent alcohol by volume (abv), while sparkling whites such as Champagne, Prosecco and Cava range from 9 to 13 percent.

Some low-calorie wines have an abv as low as 7.5 percent.

Wine giant Diageo Chateau and Estates started selling its lower-alcohol brand, Girl Go Lightly, in January. It includes Chardonnay, Moscato and Rose. Their Butterfly Kiss brand has a Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and Moscato with 10 to 13 percent abv. Both brands cost $13 per bottle.

The Doctor’s Sauvignon Blanc, from New Zealand, boasts only 9.5 percent abv, and Canada’s Andrew Peller Ltd makes a Pinot Grigio and a Chardonnay under the Skinnygrape brand with only 80 calories.

Meanwhile in Britain diet company Weight Watchers is selling a range of lower-alcohol wines that promise 75 calories for a 4-ounce glass.

The Sofia wines from Francis Ford Coppola’s winery, which began more than a decade ago with a light sparkler, were not marketed as low-cal, though like Skinny Girl, they average about 12 percent abv.

Coppola’s winemaker, Corey Beck, is now working on another brand called Gia which will have a slightly lower abv.

(Editing by Patricia Reaney and Matthew Lewis)

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