This is one of those questions I tend to try to ignore - I know that alcohol has a lot of calories in it, and I'd rather not know how much for fear of feeling guilty while enjoying a nice glass of wine. Well, I finally decided to do the math, so here's what I learned.
Servings in a Bottle
One "serving" of wine is considered 150 mLs, which equates to just over 5 ounces. This means that each 750 mL bottle of wine has five servings. So if you split your bottle over dinner with your significant other, you're each getting ~2.5 servings of wine (if you play fair).
Calories per Serving
The amount of calories in a serving of wine obviously varies, with dry wines having less than sweet dessert wines. A good rule of thumb though, is that a glass of "regular" table wine, white or red, contains between 90 -120 calories. Using the multiplication-friendly score of 100, that means your 2.5 servings at dinner contain 2.5 x 100 = 250 calories. Not as bad as I was expecting, actually!
Amount of Alcohol
The general idea here is that one 5 oz glass of wine has roughly the same amount of alcohol as one 12 oz beer, or one shot (1.5 oz) of liquor. So drinking half a bottle of wine has the same amount of alcohol as drinking two and a half (12 oz) bottles of beer, or roughly one and a half pints (one pint = 586 mL = 19.2 oz). Got that? And now for a general public service announcement: your body can only metabolize about one drink per hour, so splitting a bottle of wine at home is fine, but doing so at a restaurant isn't such a good idea if you're planning on driving any time soon (especially not if you live in DC!).
Recommended Alcohol Consumption
New stories seem to crop up in the media every couple of months about this, but the general trend of most of the research I've seen seems to point to the fact that moderate alcohol consumption (of any type) is beneficial to heart health, and that red wine in particular may have additional antioxidants which aid in preventing certain types of cancers. So just what is "moderate alcohol consumption"? The U.S. Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines defines this as 1-2 drinks (servings) per day for men, and one drink per day for women (sorry ladies - life is unfair). Being a bit less teetoling than the U.S., the UK recommends 3-4 drinks per day for men, and 2-3 drinks per day for women as part of a healthy diet. Keep in mind that when they say "per day" in the US, they really mean "with dinner"; in the UK, those per day drinks include those consumed at lunch as well, since a glass of wine at noon isn't likely to get you fired as it would in the US.
The Joys of Bicycle Commuting
So I'm one of those people who are lucky enough to actually live within a 10-mile radius of where I work. Because of this, I bike to work nearly every day. Thanks to my trusty heart rate monitor, I know that I burn approximately 300 calories during my 7.5 mile ride in to work. Since the neat thing about bicycle commuting is that you are automatically committing yourself to riding home as well, another 7.5 miles earns me another 300 calories, for a total of approximately 600 extra calories burned each day. (In case you're thinking 300 calories sounds like a lot to burn in only 7.5 miles, understand that Maryland is very hilly - we're not talking 7.5 flat, easy miles here). Comparing that 600 calories burned to the measly 250 calories consumed by splitting a bottle of wine with dinner, I have decided not to feel guilty about it and will thus now enjoy my evening bottles that much more!
And Now We Return to Our Regular Programming...
Sorry for the tangent - I had just always been curious about that, and thought I'd share what I found out in case there were any other calorie-counting wine lovers out there! I will now return to my regular business of reviewing tasty, affordable bottles of wine...