Alcoholic Beverages to Drink When You’re Avoiding Sugar
By Mary Lytle Originally published January 2020, updated March 2023
Gone are the days when the most popular drinks contain heavy, sugary syrups and mixers. The average consumer is increasingly more conscious of what ingredients they are putting in their body. One ingredient in particular is being targeted for elimination: sugar.
So, how do you avoid it? It is common knowledge that foods like breakfast cereals, sweet baked goods and frozen treats are heavy in added sugars, but some of the biggest culprits of added sugar are beverages. Just because it is in liquid form, doesn’t mean the calories don’t count.
When it comes to alcoholic beverages, the problem liquid is usually the mixer. Choosing the wrong cocktail mixer can double your intake of calories and sugar, so it’s important to read the labels. If you’re paying more attention to your sugar intake, stay away from juices, sour mixes, cranberry cocktail or premade cocktail mixers in general. Adding soda water with a squeeze of citrus fruit will always be your best bet.
When choosing your spirit, keep in mind that ABV (alcohol by volume) will directly translate into sugar levels. The higher the ABV, the more sugar that is in your spirit. The same goes for wine (or really any alcoholic beverage). When you’re shopping for a wine to enjoy that has less sugar in it, read the label. Look for a wine that has a lower ABV than 13.5%. Most zinfandels have a higher ABV, usually around 14-17%, so you’ll want to avoid those.
Also, stay away from “sweet” wines. While this is more of a rule-of-thumb than a golden rule, you will want to avoid wines that have the following words on their labels: dessert, dolce, port, ice, spatlese, moscato and demi Sec.
Here’s the good news if you’re a wine drinker: a typical glass of wine is around five ounces. If you fill up a glass with four ounces of dry wine, then you are already cutting back on your sugar intake. You may not miss that last ounce once it is poured.
If you just want the “easy button” for what to drink when you’re drinking but trying to avoid too much sugar, we’ve outlined some suggestions to sip on.
Closerie Du Bailli Grande Reserve
When shopping for wine that contains less sugar, a good guideline would be to find a vino on the dry side. Dry wines typically have less (or no) sugar added to sweeten the taste. Closerie Du Bailli Grand Reserve, a Bordeaux from our Sourced & Certified Collection, fits this rule of thumb. It is very dry, with a full body and has 13% ABV, also meaning it has less sugar. There is immense value in this wine with high-quality juice and a 90-point rating on the 2015 vintage from Wine Enthusiast
Vignobles Bulliat Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Nature
Vignobles Bulliat Crémant de Bourgogne is labelled as “brut nature” precisely meaning no sugar is added at all. This sparkling wine is made of 100% chardonnay grapes that are hand-picked at an early stage and made by the méthode traditionnelle to produce extremely fine bubbles. If you are looking for a sugarless libation to add to your celebration, this is the wine you should choose.
La Cappucinna Pinot Grigio
La Cappucinna has been producing wines organically since 1985. From vine to bottling line, they control the entire process to ensure they are promoting a sustainable practice to support biodiversity and environmental protection. Their laborious process ensures no chemical fertilizers or pesticides are used, leaving a healthier, more natural wine. La Cappucinna Pinot Grigio has a lower ABV of 12.5%, meaning it contains less sugar than the average glass of white wine.
Michelob Ultra Organic Seltzer Variety Pack
The hard seltzer craze has hit everyone, including your favorite light lager brewers. Michelob Ultra’s organic seltzers are just 80 calories with zero carbs or sugar and only 4% ABV in each can. With refreshing flavors like spicy pineapple, cucumber lime and peach pear, this variety pack is the perfect grab-and-go drink set to bring to your next beach or boat day.
21SEEDS Cucumber Jalapeño Tequila
21SEEDS Tequila was born out of founder Kat Hantas’ desire for a different kind of drinking experience that just wasn’t on the market. Her daily glass of wine left her feeling fatigued and out of touch with her body, so her doctor recommended switching to distilled spirits. In search of a simple, tasty way to enjoy tequila, Hantas began infusing the spirit herself with grapefruit, jalapeño, orange and other flavor combinations. 21SEEDS is a refreshing, all-natural way to enjoy your low sugar cocktails.
VIDE Vodka Soda Cocktail Variety Pack
For all the fans of a classic vodka soda, VIDE canned cocktails are crisp and refreshing with a light, non-sweet flavor profile. They contain zero sugar, zero carbs and only 99 calories and come in four deliciously fruity flavors – cranberry, watermelon, peach and mango. Crack one open for a pleasantly light ready-to-sip cocktail.
V5 Botanical Cucumber Mint Vodka
For clean spirit options, botanical vodkas are definitely the way to go. This cucumber mint flavored vodka from V5 is crisp and cooling with delicate floral notes. Mix with soda water and add fresh cucumber slices and mint sprigs for a thirst-quenching summer sipper.
Ketel One Botanical Peach & Orange Blossom Vodka
Looking for more fruity-floral flavors than herbal-floral? Try Ketel One’s Botanical Peach & Orange Blossom Vodka and soda water for a beautifully crisp spritz bursting with the taste of lush, juicy white peaches and fragrant orange blossoms. (AND it has 40% less calories than a glass of white wine!)
More Low-Sugar Vodka Options
Grey Goose Essences Watermelon & Basil Vodka
SVEDKA Pure Infusions Dragonfruit Melon
If nothing on this list suits your taste or if you are looking for more options, stop by your local ABC location and reach out to your local sales consultant for more recommendations.