I don’t know what it is about my psyche that causes all self-control to go out the window come Thanksgiving, only to have it return on Jan. 2, when extra poundage has accumulated.
For most of the year, I am content with broiled meat and a salad. But come Thanksgiving, visions of chocolate-dipped peanut butter balls dance through my head, joined in the waltz by pecan tarts, date nut bars, fresh coconut cake, cheese straws and an array of seasonal recipes both old and new.
And then there’s the wine. Wines to go with Thanksgiving dinner, wines served at parties, wines received as gifts, special wines from my personal collection saved exclusively for holiday celebrations.
Gentle readers, here is a wake-up call for me and thee: Wine has calories. The average four-ounce pour of dry red wine contains 82 calories. White wine is only slightly less caloric.
A standard wine bottle contains 750 milliliters, or 25.36 ounces, or 6.26 four-ounce pours. Do the math. An average bottle of red wine contains 521.52 calories. Most people do not consume an entire bottle with a meal … or do they?
Eighty-two calories is not that significant in the scheme of things, and everyone knows a glass of red wine with a meal is very beneficial to one’s health. But here’s the rub: Who stops with just a four-ounce pour?
Typically, a glass is poured prior to the meal. One must test the wine to make sure it is sound. For a wine to be enjoyed, one must have a cracker, a cheese straw or a few toasted pecans. Then comes the meal, and one’s wine glass is empty, so another four-ounce pour is dispensed.
Now we are down to approximately half the bottle or less (because measuring exact servings is gauche). What to do with the fraction of wine left in the bottle? We all know resealed wine is not as good as when first opened, so we finish it off, dispensing the remains among the diners without thinking we have dispensed 521.52 calories.
Repeat this behavior frequently, and soon those extra pounds find you.
Nutritional labels do not appear on wine bottles as on other food items. No average serving size and accompanying caloric information is indicated. Generally, the higher the alcohol by volume, the higher the caloric content. Thus, wines like Port, late harvest wines, ice wines and various dessert wines pack more calories in a four-ounce serving than an average dry wine.
On the upside, wine is a healthy beverage taken in moderation. A dry wine has no saturated fat, no cholesterol and is low in sodium and carbohydrates, unlike high-alcohol distilled spirits and some high-carbohydrate beers.
Consuming wine, like other foods, is all about portion control. For single- or two-person households, a 375-milliliter, half-bottle format is ideal for aiding in portion control, but these half bottles are difficult to come by and, in some instances, are priced higher proportionately by ounce than standard format bottles.
I am preaching to myself here. Wine is a convivial beverage. It makes consumers brilliant conversationalists. One who is reticent to converse for lack of topic can always fall back on discussing the merits of a particular wine rather than the weather, but don’t get lost in the conviviality of the moment. Nurse that lone glass of wine over the course of the meal.
I plan to heed this advice as soon as I finish off that last peanut butter ball prepared and shared by an evil relative.