Is Sweet Wine Bad For You?

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The good & bad of sweet wines

Preferring sweet wines isn’t “cool” in wine circles, and you may also be wondering “is sweet wine bad for you? The first thing I’d say to you is “if your tastes have a sweet inclination, don’t be afraid of labels and snobs.” There’s nothing wrong with liking sweet wines…even for men. I’m Italian and the American male’s obsession for being macho often amuses me. Especially when they differentiate food and drink, like “sweet wines are a ladies drink.”

Vin Santo a high quality sweet wine from Tuscany

Sweet Vin Santo from Tuscany

However sweet wines contain high levels of sugar, either because it’s been added, or because the natural sugars haven’t all been turned into alcohol. Consequently they contain more calories, and less of the health benefits of their drier counterparts.

So does that mean you should only drink dry wines? Absolutely not! Just satisfy your craving in moderation, as all our eating habits should be. If fruit and vegetables are the mainstay of your diet, a complete menu at McDonalds once a month will have no effect on your health. Of course that changes of you eat like this most of the time. It’s just common sense, there’s no need to consult a dietitian. The same applies to what you drink. If you regularly drink soda, (you shouldn’t) then yes sweet wines are bad for you.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the cheap products are always manufactured. That means they have high contents of sugar and acids (all legal) to enhance the otherwise very poor quality of the juice. And you know what? They taste fine. But all that junk is like the junk in prepackaged foods, and you’re just adding more to your body. So if you drink them frequently, the answer to the question “is sweet wine bad for you” is definitely yes. But hey, not all wines are alike.

So What Can I Drink?

Of course I’m Italian, and if sweet wines are your thing, then go for an appellation wine from Italy. The appellations are known with an initialism which is D.O.C.G. It means controlled and guaranteed denomination of origin. The D.O.C.G imposes strict regulations on the ingredients, and above all, very strict quality controls by the authorities. You’ll be able to satisfy your sweet tooth in relative safety, apart from the calories which will always be higher than a dry wine. They will cost more too, though not in an exorbitant way, and quality never comes cheap.

To see if you’re buying an appellation wine look for the paper band on the neck of the bottle. They can vary in color, but it will always have the emblem of the Italian republic and will look something like this:

The Italian D.O.C.G. appellation emblem

The D.O.C.G. appellation label

If the paper band isn’t there, then it isn’t an appellation wine, and more likely than not it’s a manufactured beverage..the type that’s bad for you.

A brief list of Italian D.O.C.G sweet wines

Vin Santo. This a wine from Tuscany and you can taste it on one of my private Tuscany wine tours click here for more details. Vin Santo can vary in sweetness, from bone dry to extremely sweet. The Vin Santo from  Monterinaldi winery which is part of my “Wine Lover’s Tour” is one of the best around. A gorgeous sweetness as it hits the palette, followed by a touch of acidity which gives the wine a perfect balance. And to top it all its an all natural product made from dried grapes not sugars.

Lambrusco. A fruity sweet wine with a range of sweet options like Dolce, Amabie, and Semisecco

Brachetto d’Aqui. Named after the wine grapes it is derived from. There are three options namely: Rosso – a fizzy drink with a low alcohol level and high sweetness, Spumante – a sparkling wine, and Passito – the sweetest of them all.

Schiava. Not strictly a D.O.C.G wine but still a quality product. At the first taste, it might be mistaken for a more dry wine, the bottom notes include cinnamon, cherry, and cotton candy, but at the end its super sweet.

Recioto della Valpollicella. Intensely flavored, and again made from dried (passito) grapes in the Veneto region of north-eastern Italy


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