This is a guest blog post by Carol Harvey, Director of food/nutrition labeling and product development at Palate Works.
Summertime and the sippin’ is easy. Unless you’re a wine drinker quaffing full-alcohol, acidic, tannic, warmish wine on a hot day, which isn’t so fine.
The Italians long ago devised a fix for this, and it’s called il spritz. Over ice, slightly sparkling with a little citrus, and garnished with an olive (huh??), it can be refreshing, light, and lower in calories and alcohol.
Mionetto, owned by wine and spirits conglomerate Henkell & Co, has a new sparkler made of Prosecco, natural flavors and (neon) natural colors. It’s called il Spriz, and with enough melting ice is a passable libation (without it, there are noticeable bitter orange/medicinal/barnyard notes).
Dilution with water is one “secret” to lowering the calories and alcohol. The other is use of lower alcohol wines (alcohol has more calories per gram than other carbs).
Speaking of calories… Whenever they (or any other nutrients) are mentioned in labeling or marketing materials for an alcoholic beverage sold in the U.S., a nutrient “statement of average analysis” is required. This product doesn’t provide one – apparently it’s a secret – even though the web site teases with “less than 100 calories per 4 fl oz.” And the standard/required serving size is 5 oz, so we’re probably looking at more than 100 calories.
Note: Many alcoholic beverage products now make “skinny” claims. In reality, most have about the same number of calories as regular wine and spirits. Some are a little lower because water is added (and usually quality subtracted) and/or alcohol is lower due to the use of fruit that isn’t as ripe. Good quality wines (especially from colder growing regions in Europe) can have less alcohol naturally, and therefore fewer calories. Check the alcohol content on the bottle. Another way to get fewer calories is to drink less… not as much fun, of course.
To this taster’s palate, il Spriz could be even less dolce (and more clean/natural tasting) … a good reason to make your own spritzer. It only takes a minute (but don’t tell i conglomerati):
2.5 fluid oz (2.5 shots) dry (not sweet) red, white , rosé or sparkling wine (something good but not too expensive… you won’t be tasting its finer qualities)
1.5 oz juice or juice-based soda (orange, cranberry, pomegranate, etc.)
1-1.5 oz still or sparkling water with lime essence
Serve over ice with lime and/or orange wedges for squeeze and garnish
Approx. nutrition for 5 fl oz. if using orange juice (not including garnish): 82 calories, 7 g carbs, 0 g protein, 0 g fat, 40% DV for vitamin C
Alcohol content: about 5% (more or less, depending on the wine used), if using 1 oz water (lower if using more water).
For even fewer calories, skip the juice/soda and just dilute the wine with orange or lime-flavored sparkling water.
Carol Harvey has been a nutrition labeling and product development consultant for over 15 years. She can be reached at palatemail [AT] yahoo [DOT] com.