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The question

I'm a 50-year-old who loves wine but also has been fighting type 1 diabetes for almost 35 years. Other than the obvious ice wines, ports, etc., are there particular grapes that could be considered higher in carbohydrate (sugar) count than others? Does red versus white versus rosé make a difference?

The answer

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Although I've "prescribed" a few wines to physicians who've asked for recommendations, I myself am no doctor. Nor am I a chemist. So take what I'm about to say for what it's worth.

You're certainly on the right track by avoiding sweet beverages such as icewine and port. Sugar is a diabetic's enemy, and those wines have plenty. When it comes to "dry" wines (I put that in quotation marks because there's always at least a trace of sugar even in the driest wines), the best choice generally is red. As a category, red wines tend to be lower in sugar than white or rosé. It all depends on the specific wine; some reds, such as Yellowtail Shiraz from Australia, are sweeter than, say, a typical white Sancerre from France.

I would also go so far as to say that European reds are more likely – speaking very, very generally – to be drier that those from very sunny New World regions, such as California and South Australia. That said, the tiny differences in sugar concentration are unlikely to make much of a difference if you intend to drink no more than a glass or two over the course of a couple of hours.

If you're on prescribed medication, including insulin, and I suspect you are, you should absolutely consult with a doctor or nutritionist experienced with diabetes. Health experts I've spoken with would say that sugar is not your only concern. Alcohol plays into the equation. After drinking alcohol, you may experience low blood glucose for up to 24 hours. And I believe that, in cases of type 1 diabetes, there's the threat of morning hypoglycemia, or low blood glucose, when alcohol is consumed the night before.

There are two cardinal rules: Keep your alcohol consumption moderate if you're going to drink; and check with a health expert.

E-mail your wine and spirits questions to Beppi Crosariol. Look for answers to select questions to appear in the Wine & Spirits newsletter and on The Globe and Mail website.

The Flavour Principle by Lucy Waverman and Beppi Crosariol was recently named one of this season's Top 10 cookbooks in the United States by Publishers Weekly. Published by HarperCollins.

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