Sugar content in alcohol - best & worst

The social aspect of drinking alcohol can make it difficult for people to give up drinking altogether, so many people find it beneficial to select their drinks based on what will have the lowest nutritional impact. While this is still worse than not drinking at all, some find it to be a happy medium. Avoiding drinks with high sugar content is one way to do this, so let’s take a look at how some common alcoholic beverages fared.


Wine contains a small amount of sugar – roughly 1 gram per standard glass for white wine, and 1.5 grams for red (or 5 grams and 7.5 grams per bottle respectively).
But sweet wines are another story altogether! The rule of thumb is that the sweeter a wine is, the more sugar it has – some wines that are classified as ‘medium’ sweetness have up to 34g of sugar per bottle, with even sweeter wines containing still more sugar.
So if you’re looking to trying to cut down the amount of sugar in your alcoholic beverages, dry white or dry red wine are good options – stay off the sweet stuff!

An even better option (as far as low sugar content is concerned) is beer. Beer generally contains no sugar, but what it lacks in sugar is offset by a large amount of carbohydrates. For example, a 375ml bottle of standard local beer will contain no sugar but a whopping 18 grams of carbohydrates!

Distilled Liquor (Spirits)

Most distilled alcoholic beverages use sugar at some stage in their making, but the distillation process itself often dissolves the sugar. However, it is often said that ‘the clearer the better’ as spirits such as vodka and gin are lower in calories. Overall, distilled liquor has no sugar content. But it’s not the liquor itself that causes concern…

The worst thing you can do is add mixers such as soft drinks or juice to your drink. Not only can the caffeine wreak havoc with your sleep, you are also adding large amounts of sugar to a beverage that was previously sugarless. Adding half a can of coke to your drink will bring with it around 20 grams of sugar. Add a can of Red Bull and that’s 27 grams. Fancy a Vodka orange? Around 20 grams. Adding tonic water to your gin will contribute around 22 grams. It’s the mixers that will make your drinks very high in sugar without you even realising it, so be careful – especially when drinking premixed spirits as they are almost always high in sugar.

If you wanted to know what alcohol has the highest sugar content (on its own), then look no further. While many liqueurs start out as a liquor, they usually have sugar added after distillation, making them very high in sugar content. Kahlua contains 33 grams of sugar per 30ml, while Baileys has 6 grams per 30ml.  Some liqueurs contain a staggering 46 grams of sugar per 100ml – nearly half of what you are drinking is sugar! On their own, liqueurs are the worst choice for those looking to cut down on sugar from their alcoholic drinks. This includes most cocktails that often combine liqueurs with sugary mixers.

To truly be healthy, the best idea is to cut out alcohol altogether. However, if you’re not going to do that then the next best thing is to try and cut out the sugar. Overall, the best option to do this is to drink either wine or distilled spirits with a mixer containing no sugar, such as soda water. While beer contains no sugar, it is by no means a healthy option with very high amount of carbohydrates. In any case, it’s always best to skip liqueurs or high sugar mixers such as soft drink or juice.