This column was in the paper the day before Thanksgiving; thus the "standing on the precipice" part. Still, this Syltbar Prosecco is pretty darn good for so few calories.
This is it, people. We stand today on the precipice of the official holiday season which is known the world over for its blatant disregard for diets. Forget moderation. It’s go-big-or-go-home time and it begins with Thanksgiving. There will be office parties, school socials, family gatherings, cookies, cakes, and all manner of savory delights for the next 5-6 weeks. Next to all that food, if you’re lucky, there will be wine.
As a professional glutton, I’ve become aware of a little secret about that wine, innocently offering refreshment between bites of mashed potatoes, sausage & cornbread stuffings, pecan pie. This traitorous beverage contains calories. What? Yes. Life can be so unfair. We just have to accept it and move on.
Here’s the break down. Calories in wine come from sugar and alcohol. Higher alcohol means more calories. More sugar means more calories. However a gram of alcohol brings 7 calories while a gram of sugar is only 4 calories. So a sweet, low alcohol riesling could conceivably clock fewer calories than a bone-dry cabernet with 15-17% alcohol. I have found calorie counts on wine from 160 calories per 5 ounces of California zinfandel to 120 for 5 ounces of Burgundian pinot noir.
At the low end of the spectrum, Prosecco and other sparkling wines wear the little wire crowns for having the lowest calorie count with only about 85-90 calories per five ounce pour thanks to their low alcohol content (around 11%) and low residual sugar.
And then comes along a low-cal Prosecco called Syltbar. Typically anything low-fat or low-cal has me running in the opposite direction, but the gravitational pull of wine made me check it out at a recent trade tasting. The impossibly stylish and beautiful owners of Syltbar, Claus and Regina Blohm, were there to share the story of their wine. “It is lower in calories because of an additional fermentation we do,” Claus said.
“How many fewer are we talking here?” I asked, eying the bottle suspiciously.
“It’s 49 calories. Normally Prosecco has about 80.”
So naturally I expected to hate it.
But Spanx be my witness, it was great. Really. I loved it and I’m not just saying that because I want (need) to like something with fewer calories. It was light and refreshing with the characteristic green apple and floral aromas for which Prosecco is famous. I looked up at the Blohms and they could tell by my eyebrows’ position near my hairline that I was surprised and impressed. Their patient and smiling nods showed they’ve seen this response many times from wine buyers and taste makers far up the food chain from little ol’ me. Syltbar is in the Ritz-Carlton, Nobu, Morimoto Sushi Bar, Capital Grill, the InterContinental, Breakers, the Biltmore, Wolfgang’s Steakhouse, Bern’s, pretty much every one of the most desirable wine lists in South Florida. These are not people who will put something on their list just because it’s low-cal. It truly is good, and the bonus is it’s really low cal.
I’ve seen other entire lines dedicated to advertising low calorie counts but they’re usually only 10 calories lower than normal wines which are almost always 5 times better in every other aspect. Thus my early skepticism.
But Syltbar has made me a convert. They make a rosé sparkler and the regular Prosecco, both are wonderful and affordable. Through December 3rd they’re available at a 10% discount through the company web site as part of a kickstarter campaign to build their business. Check them out at www.syltbar.com. And by all means, employ this sparkler to wash down all the holiday goodness and you’ll save yourself at least 30 calories per glass. Now, let me fetch my long calculator to see what that will add up to this month....