Alcoholic Beverages to Drink When You’re Avoiding Sugar
By Mary Small Originally published January 2020, updated January 2021
It’s a new year, which means half the American population is resolute on overturning their unhealthy habits. While there are many trending “fad” diets and weight-loss programs circulating the cyber-verse, there is one thing most of them have in common—cut out added sugars. It’s a good health tip since added sugars lead to weight gain, heart disease, diabetes and other diseases.
So, how do you avoid them? 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 adult (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 Zinfandel’s 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.
Smirnoff Zero Sugar Infusions
Smirnoff Zero Infusions come in three flavors, Watermelon & Mint, Cucumber & Lime, and Strawberry & Rose. All three can deliciously mix with a premium soda water and mint or fruit garnish for maximum enjoyment. With zero artificial flavors, sugar, carbs or gluten and only 72 calories per serving, you can sip at your pleasure, sans-guilt.
Ketel One Botanicals Cucumber Mint
If you are looking for a refreshing spirit that won’t leave you with sweet regret, Ketel One Botanicals Cucumber Mint is your pick. This clean and crisp botanical vodka mixes perfectly for a poolside mojito. Simply add 1 ½ ounces of Ketel One Botanical Cucumber & Mint Vodka into a shaker with ice. Add 3-5 mint leaves, a ½ ounce of stevia simple syrup and shake vigorously. Pour into a tumbler over fresh ice and top with premium soda water. Garnish with mint and enjoy
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.
Truly Hard Seltzer
When a cocktail is too sugary and beer makes you feel too bloated, grabbing a can of Truly Hard Seltzer is a tasty option. Each can only consists of 100 calories, 2 grams of carbs and zero sugar. This sparkling hard seltzer is made with simple, natural ingredients with no artificial flavors or sweeteners. The popularity of White Claw hasn’t seemed to cease (understandably so), but Truly’s large line of fruit flavors may one day dethrone King Claw. Stock your cooler, crack open a can and taste for yourself.
Crook and Marker
Crook and Marker are spiked and sparkling beverages made with organic alcohol and zero sugar. They’re less than 1 gram of net carbs, naturally gluten-free, non-GMO and vegan. This high-end seltzer is made from cassava root, quinoa, amaranth and millet and has no artificial flavors or sweeteners. All of their flavors get their color and sweetness from natural sources.
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 wine consultant for more recommendations. Our wine consultants are extremely knowledgeable and directly trained by our expert wine team.