Are FitVine Wines *Really* Healthier for You? Here's What You Need to Know
Inspired by some painful post-Napa-cab headaches, Mark Warren and Tom Beaton co-founded FitVine five years ago with one mission: offer vinos of many varieties that have less sugar but the same alcohol level as their competitors.
Related: The Health Benefits of Drinking Wine
The California-based wine company now sells 13 different blends or varietals of sparkling wine, rosé, whites and reds, all emblazoned with a runner holding a glass and bunch of grapes on the label.
As a result of their slick marketing, wellness promises and reasonable price point (about $15), FitVine is the fastest-growing wine brand in the U.S., according to a FoodDive report.
The brand originally homed in on fitness devotees—partnering with events like road races to sponsor finish-line drinks—but then evolved into targeting all people looking to improve their health in some way. FitVine is now sold at more than 20,000 wine shops and supermarkets across the country, including Whole Foods Market, Kroger, Walmart and more. Thought of as a competitor to the big-box brands and "clean" wines like Cameron Diaz's Avaline brand, Warren proudly boasts that the alcohol by volume (ABV) of FitVine is on par with other traditional wines.
"We focus on crafting clean, great-tasting wines with significantly less sugar, fewer sulfites and no flavor additives, without lowering alcohol," the FitVine website promises.
Are FitVine Wines Healthy?
Here's a rundown of the stats for current offerings, per 5-ounce glass:
- Prosecco: 0.7g sugar, 92 calories, 11% alcohol
- Rosé: 0.09g sugar, 112 calories, 12.4% alcohol
- Cabernet Sauvignon: 0.06g sugar, 117 calories, 14.1% alcohol
- Holiday Red: 0.01g sugar, 120 calories, 13.9% alcohol
- Pinot Noir: 0.03g sugar, 118 calories, 13.9% alcohol
- Red Blend: 0.07g sugar, 121 calories, 13.9% alcohol
- Red Zinfandel: 0.09g sugar, 128 calories, 14.9% alcohol
- Syrah: 0.06g sugar, 117 calories, 13.9% alcohol
- Albariño: 0.06g sugar, 107 calories, 13.9% alcohol
- Chardonnay: 0.04g sugar, 115 calories, 14.1% alcohol
- Chenin Blanc: 0.07g sugar, 104 calories, 12% alcohol
- Pinot Grigio: 0.09g sugar, 109 calories, 13.4% alcohol
- Sauvignon Blanc: 0.09g sugar, 114 calories, 13.4% alcohol
For comparison, we've rounded up a rough estimate of the calories per serving of traditional wines and other alcohols.
So what makes FitVine's nutrition info look a bit different? The longer grapes stay on the vine as they grow, the more natural sugar they produce. Fermentation can also impact the amount of sweetness (noted as "residual sugars") left in a bottle of wine. FitVine grapes are plucked earlier than most and fermented longer to allow the yeast that the grapes age with to "eat" more of the sugars, resulting in a drier, lower-sugar wine. A typical glass of red wine has about 0.9 grams of sugar, while a glass of white wine has about 1.4 grams, per the United States Department of Agriculture's FoodData Nutrition Database.
In terms of calories, FitVine wines only have about 30 fewer per glass than their competitors—yes, even with the reduced sugar they still have more than 100 calories per glass. That's because they still contain the same amount of alcohol, which has 7 calories per gram, compared to 4 calories per gram in carbs and protein and 9 calories per gram in fat.
FitVine wines also have one-half to one-fifth the sulfites compared to traditional wines. Some people swear that the sulfites are the part of the wine that gives them next-day headaches as the result of increased histamine production, but there is little to no current science to back that up. (Psst ... it's probably the alcohol that causes that.)
The Bottom Line
Alcohol is alcohol, regardless of the label claims, and should be consumed in moderation. (BTW, "moderation" means up to one glass per day for women or up to two glasses per day for men, per the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans.) And sticking with a moderate amount can offer some very real health benefits!
If you like the flavor of FitVine, great! Feel free to stock up ($14.99, drizly.com). But just because your glass has 30 fewer calories—which is equivalent to eating about three fewer french fries—doesn't mean that you have the green light to gulp the whole bottle. And it's probably best to ignore any health claims on the label of any kind of booze. The ABV has more of an impact than the sugar content on your headache risk and the calorie count per glass, and this info is required to be listed on anything that contains alcohol.