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Should there be calorie counts on wine labels?

Do you care how many calories are in your favourite bottle of wine? Debate is growing in the UK after supermarket Sainsbury's committed calorie labelling on all of its own-brand wines.

Image Credit: Drinkaware

Many leaders of the UK wine trade have previously briefed against calorie labelling, inevitably concerned that it could impact sales and arguing that the potential benefits for public health aren’t worth it.

Politically, then, the Sainsbury’s plan is interesting. Its announcement included praise from the government.

Others don’t agree with the policy. Rival chains Tesco and Morrisons quickly quashed any suggestion of following in Sainsbury’s footsteps.

Who is right?

It obviously depends on the style, but the Drinkaware charity says an average 250ml glass of 13«V wine – classed as ‘large’ in the UK – has 228 calories, which it compares to a Cornetto ice cream or, bizarrely, two fish fingers.

It’s probably not an equation that makes for relaxing contemplation or light-hearted chat on a Friday night.

More generally, critics of calorie labelling on food argue that it’s a crude method of measuring overall health, when nutritional balance and moderation are what’s required. Some of the most prominent critics are not in the pay of industry, incidentally.

But, Sainsbury’s says 85% of consumers it surveyed want to see calorie labelling on alcoholic drinks.

Will you be sweating over the calories in your glass this evening?

Written by Chris Mercer

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