Unless you live in a cave (in which case, you probably follow the paleo diet!), you have no doubt heard the buzz about keto. Maybe you have some friends who are on it, or you yourself have found that following a ketogenic diet has improved your energy and contributed to weight loss and muscle gain.
The ketogenic diet has certainly made waves, but unlike many other eating plans, advocates and adherents insist that this is not a “diet” at all. It’s a lifestyle, a way of eating that becomes an ingrained habit. But it should also be enjoyable! After all, how long can we really stick to a plan if we cannot treat ourselves now and then? This brings us to the big question: can you drink wine on keto?
Is Wine Keto Friendly?
We won’t keep you in suspense: you can enjoy a very dry red wine (or a very dry white) on a keto diet.
Why dry? Let’s take a look at how the keto diet works and why dry wines are a better fit. Whether you follow the diet or are simply wondering if it’s rude to bring wine to a dinner hosted by your keto-eating friends, this article will serve as a keto-friendly wine guide.
A Look at the Ketogenic Diet
In recent years, “carb” has become a dirty word! We blame carbohydrates for a multitude of sins, but let’s get real: they are one of the three main classes of foods (the others being protein and fat), and they are a source of energy. Now, here’s where carbs get a bad rap: they are primarily sugar and starches that the body breaks down into glucose or simple sugar. Your body burns this as fuel, and excess is stored as fat.
Keto forces your body to burn fat instead of carbohydrates for energy. To do this, your body – your liver specifically – has to create ketone bodies, a type of fuel made from stored fat.
Getting to a state of ketosis, the metabolic state in which the body starts to use fat as fuel, means you need to drastically limit your carbohydrates (fewer than 20-50 grams per day), watch your protein intake, and boost the number of healthy fats you consume.
Now “fat” is another class of food that we’ve grown to fear. But with the keto diet, you need to make sure to get enough high-quality fats into your diet. This is the fuel your body will burn. In a 2000 calorie diet, for example, a breakdown may look like:
- 165 grams of fat
- 75 grams of protein
- 40 grams of carbohydrates
Keto folks likely have lots of nuts, seeds, avocado, nut butter, olive oil, butter, cocoa butter, lard, palm oil, coconut oil in their pantries and refrigerators. They will have proteins – eggs, beef, chicken, turkey, fish, and pork (and, depending on their goals, yes, they will have bacon!). They’ll have leafy greens and keto-friendly veggies. What they will not have is carb-loaded items, such as pasta, rice, bread, and cereals.
Now, fruits and vegetables have lots of carbs. Followers of the keto diet restrict themselves to a certain amount (e.g. 40 grams per day) and stick to a small portion of fruit, especially berries, and leafy greens such as kale, spinach, and Swiss chard, as well as onions, garlic, mushrooms, cucumbers, celery, summer squash, asparagus, brussels sprouts, and broccoli.
But what can you sip with your keto-friendly meals when you want something other than water?!
Can You Drink Wine on Keto?
Ok, getting back to wine! Here’s the good news. “Wine is much lower in carbs than beer, so most people who eat keto choose wine,” recommends Andreas Eenfeldt, MD, via Diet Doctor. Phew! Thankfully, it turns out that, yes, you can drink a very dry red wine or white wine in moderation on keto. In fact, that dryness is key to a good keto wine. Just what does that mean?
The goal of a ketogenic diet is to force your body into ketosis. This is a metabolic state in which the body burns fat instead of carbohydrates for energy. To achieve ketosis, your diet is high fat and ultra-low-carb. To do this safely, it helps to be a meticulous planner! It is essential that you increase fat as you decrease carbohydrates.
If you have always preferred beer, now is an excellent time to train your palette and explore the wonderful world of keto-friendly wines. You’ll instantly slash your carb and sugar consumption – and avoid or whittle away at the dreaded “beer gut.”
Enough about that, let’s get to the wine! The good news is that many wines have little to no carbohydrates which makes them a candidate for consumption on a keto diet. The best wines for keto will absolutely have to be low or zero carbs, and as always, this only applies if said wine is consumed in moderation.
Your target should be a wine with a low alcohol content of 13.5% ABV or lower. It should feature a residual sugar measurement that’s in the single-digits of grams per liter. In other words, you’ll want a residual sugar measurement that’s below 10 grams per liter, around 110 calories or less per glass, and a gram or less of carbs per serving. Not to worry, this is all information you can get from your wine seller. So, which wines fit the bill?
Is Red Wine Keto? Is White Wine Keto?
More good news: there are options – both red and white – out there!
Keto and Red Wine
If you are following a keto lifestyle and looking for a nice red, try these dry red wines:
- Pinot Noir
Great news! These are all giants in the wine world. They are some of the best wines for keto, and they pair perfectly with a wide variety of keto-friendly foods.
Keto and White Wine
If you prefer white wine (or the occasion calls for it), look for a very dry version of any of the following:
- Sauvignon Blanc
- Pinot Grigio
Again, these are all very versatile wines, and you’ll find that you do not have to deny yourself a chilled glass of your favorite now and again! Remember, whether you go with red or white, select a very dry version.
Why Dryness Matters for Keto Wine
A good keto wine should contain very little residual sugar. In the wine-making process, yeast consumes the grape sugar to produce alcohol. That process might be stopped early to create wines with a bit of residual sugar left over. A lot of wines have some residual sugar because it complements and blends into the taste well. A very dry wine is one where that process is allowed to continue, and so it has very little residual sugar.
Be aware that ‘dry’ is also used to describe a taste quality – not all wines that are described as dry cut this sugar down that much. They can still have as much as 30 grams of residual sugar per liter.
Is Wine Keto? Look for These Measurements
Your target should be a wine with a low alcohol content of 13.5% ABV or lower. It should feature a residual sugar measurement that’s in the single-digits of grams per liter. A cabernet sauvignon is your best bet when looking for a very dry red wine, and wines like chardonnay and riesling will often fit the bill among white wines. This should offer you wines with less than 1 gram of carbs per serving, and that keeps the calories around 110 or less per glass (150 ml).
Sparkling wines also tend to have low residual sugar. If you’re having trouble finding this information, you can look for a tech sheet. These are easy to find at most wine sellers online. If you’re in person, most shops should be able to supply them.
What Should I Avoid to Drink the Best Keto Wine?
Wines that are best left on the shelf if you’re on keto? It probably won’t come as a surprise that sweet wines and dessert wines have a great deal of residual sugar. You’ll want to either eliminate or save these for cheat days or a special treat: ice wines, port, moscato, shiraz, and zinfandels. Off-dry wines probably won’t fit the bill either. Wines that have alcohol content on the high side (such as shiraz or zinfandel) are high in sugar, too. These high-alcohol content wines might need to be completely off the table.
Conclusion: Drink Dry White and Dry Red Wine on Keto Diet
This keto-friendly wine guide recommends a very dry red wine or white wine. Why dry? A very dry wine has less residual sugar and thus makes it a more keto-friendly option. Sparkling wines tend to have less residual sugar. It is, however, hard to find a 100% dry wine. Residual sugars in wine tend to compliment and blend into the taste well, which is why they are generally desirable for a palate-pleasing experience. They’re generally more sought-after among wine-drinkers for this reason, and winemakers do, of course, cater to their audience.
If you’re on the popular keto diet, you may have to give up a few of your favorite treats. However, wine doesn’t have to be one of them. Keep in mind that dryness and moderation matter. The great part about a good keto wine is that you can have one or two glasses a day of dry red or white wine without breaking the diet.
So whether you love wine or want to explore your options now that you’re living the keto lifestyle, you have terrific opportunities to meet the needs of your diet and your tastebuds. After all, what could be better than pepper-crusted beef tenderloin and sauteed swiss chard with a glass of bone dry Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon? Or creamy lemon garlic chicken with refreshing Pinot Grigio? We’ll stop now before the drooling sets in…. But you will find a wide, wonderful world of flavors that are all keto-friendly!
Keto works because it does not have to be a “diet.” It can become a natural way of eating when you prioritize good choices and remember to treat yourself to healthy indulgences. A glass or two of dry white or dry red wine on the keto diet is certainly possible – and certainly welcome by anyone who shares your table!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July 2019 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.