I’m on a diet

Even calorie counters can enjoy a little wine with dinner.

Did you resolve to lose weight in the new year? That can be a toughie, especially if you like to have a glass — or three — of wine with dinner. But there is good news: You can imbibe and still get into shape.

As a sommelier, it’s my duty to taste and compare varietals to better formulate my wine and food pairings. It’s a tough job, I know, but someone has to do it. I’m also an amateur athlete — I exercise quite a bit and have run several half marathons. So, from that dual perspective, I’m here to tell you that getting in shape and staying fit is possible while still enjoying a glass or two of wine.

First, there’s the exercise part. I know, it’s easy for me to say, but exercising really isn't a chore. All it takes is a pair of tennis shoes, a sidewalk or path to walk on, and 30 minutes a day. Then, find a wine that fits your taste, food plan and overall caloric intake. You knew that calorie-counting was going to be a part of this, so don’t cringe. I’m here to help you with that, too.

In general, it’s best to stay away from sweeter wines, as they have residual or added sugars and are higher in calories per 5 ounce serving. If you enjoy port or sherry after dinner, keep your pour at 3 ounces and stop after one glass. This will keep your calorie count down to 140 for the port and 130 for the sherry.

White wines have fewer calories than reds, but you can enjoy both categories in moderation. Begining with whites, I recommend the Arnaldo Caprai Grecante Grechetto from the Umbria region of central Italy and the Attems Pinot Grigio from Friuli-Venezia Giulia in the northeast of Italy — each will set you back around $19.

The Arnaldo Caprai Grecante Grechetto is dry but fruity, which means it won’t leave your mouth all puckery like some other dry white wines. When poured, it has a lovely scent that makes you want to close your eyes and breathe in the aroma. You’ll enjoy citrus flavors with a little pineapple and pear — and it’s only about 115 calories per 5 oz. serving. For a tasty pairing, combine this wine with rosemary-seasoned baked breast of chicken and sautéed mushrooms and spinach.

If you want something with a little creamier texture on the palate, then go for the Attems Pinot Grigio. Although it’s dry and has the typical Pinot Grigio acidity, it also has a bit of banana flavor which gives it a creamier texture. This wine has about 120 calories per 5 oz. pour and pairs easily with many of the foods we think of when dieting: salad (but not with vinegar-based dressing), fish and sautéed vegetables. Substitute spaghetti squash for pasta and drizzle it with a little olive oil and fresh thyme and pour a glass of the Attems Pinot Grigio. You’ll never know you’re dieting.

As for reds, try the Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Syrah. The wine is spicy, with plum and dark cherry flavors, and is only 125 calories per 5 oz. serving. Enjoy it with a lean cut of meat and a side of steamed asparagus.

Don’t deny yourself the pleasure of a glass of wine this year. Do, however, measure and count your servings, and you will enjoy healthy results in 2012.

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