THE QUESTION: Why are beer, wine and spirits not required to disclose nutritional info? Shouldn't a wine drinker be just as entitled as a drinker of cola or juice to know how many calories he is consuming?
THE ANSWER: You've cited two things: nutrition and calories. Alcoholic drinks contain very little of one and a considerable amount of the other.
Since 2007, nutrition labelling has been mandatory in Canada for prepackaged foods. The handy "nutrition facts" table lists various items, including calories, cholesterol, fat, sodium and protein. Alcoholic beverages are exempt, as you note. But so are many other products, such as bakery goods and salad items packaged in the store. Other exemptions include items that contain few, if any, nutrients, such as coffee, tea and spices.
Wine, spirits and beer essentially fall into the latter category. With the notable exception of some sweet liqueurs (which feature ingredient lists), virtually all alcohol products contain no cholesterol, fat, sodium or protein. They are "empty-calorie" drinks and it's assumed that consumers know this. While it may give some people comfort to know precisely how many calories they're imbibing with each glass, the calorie count in most drinks - so long as you don't mix them with pop, fruit juice or sugar - is fairly standard. A five-ounce (150-millilitre) glass of dry wine will add roughly 120 calories to your daily intake, give or take 15 calories, depending on the style of wine. (Higher alcohol usually means a higher calorie count.) Sweet wines can be slightly higher. A 341-millilitre bottle of beer contains roughly 130 to 170 calories, depending on alcoholic strength and brand, while a straight shot of vodka or gin delivers about 100 calories. The precise calorie count is unlikely to sway most buying decisions one way or another.
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