FINALLY! A Ketogenic Wine – And It’s Actually Good!

A very common question among patients is: Can I drink wine and still be in ketosis? And if it's not necessarily about ketosis, the question is just generally: Does wine fit into a healthy lifestyle?

As usual, the answer isn't so simple. But to be succinct, it depends on the wine.

A common refrain among wine enthusiasts is that a glass or two a day is good for cardiovascular health. This really only pertains to red wine due to the presence of antioxidant flavonoids and resveratrol. So yes, it's true. But there are higher concentrations of these types of antioxidants in many foods, such as dark chocolate, dark leafy greens and beans.

And of course, alcohol in excess can cause a range of problems--but you already knew that. The tipping point seems to be two glasses a day for men and one glass a day for women (sorry ladies) before the detrimental effects of alcohol overtake the benefits of wine's antioxidant properties.

But again, we need to discuss the dangers of most wines beyond simply the alcohol.

Like most food products in the modern Western world, wine has become an industrial product. As such, most of it is filled to the brim with additives. In the U.S., the FDA allows 76 industrial additives to be mixed in with your wine. Just to name a few common (and more dangerous):

  • Aspertame 
  • Petroleum hydrocarbons
  • Mineral oil
  • Coloring additives
  • Polyvinylpyrrolidone and Dimethyl dicarbonate - both of these substances have the potential to cause severe allergic reactions, and when you run into people who are "allergic" to wine, it's likely they are actually allergic to these additives

Furthermore, the process by which most wine is made adds high amounts of sugar. This is more often than not the result of using irrigation techniques instead of naturally watering their vines. It's also a result of a heightened fermentation process industrial winemakers use to speed up the process and make their wines taste more consistent from bottle to bottle.

Grapes naturally have sugar. The process of fermenting grapes--used for thousands of years--is essentially introducing yeast that eats the sugar and turns it into alcohol. Most winemakers introduce sulfer dioxide into their wines before the fermentation process is finished to kill the yeast and leave behind much of the sugar.

This is critical to patients and readers trying to maintain a state of ketosis. If your question is, "Can I drink wine and stay in ketosis?" the answer is a resounding NO. You cannot consume sugar and be in ketosis. Nor can you consume additives and artificial sweeteners as they lead to a leaky gut and derail any efforts you may be making toward eliminating inflammation and turning around your chronic health conditions.

The exception

As written above, the "wine question" (as I am now dubbing it) doesn't have a straight answer. There are wines you can drink without additives and without sugar. However, less than 1% of wines produced worldwide fit the bill.

You need to find a winemaker who does not irrigate their vines, first of all. Irrigation causes wine grapes to ripen later in the growing season. The longer a grape sits on the vine, the more sugar it has. This alone eliminates a majority of wines.

You need to find a winemaker  who allows the fermentation process to complete itself so the yeast eats away all the sugar.

You need to find a winemaker that doesn't use pesticides on their vines--this is becoming much more common though as organic farming becomes more in-demand. But simply buying organic wine doesn't change the sugar content and does not mean chemicals won't be added in the bottling process.

We've managed to find one U.S. winemaker who fits the bill. These older, more traditional wine making methods are more common in Europe. But you can find organic, non-irrigated, sugar free wine in the U.S. with a company called Dry Farm Wines.

Their owner, Todd White, gave a great interview with Dr. Dan Pompa here, outlining how his wine fits into the ketogenic diet and won't contribute to inflammation.

So, to sum up, don't be scared of wine (though don't overdo it). It is possible to safely drink certain wines. You've just got to do a little research.