Alcohol in beverages contains 7 calories per gram, according to the McKinley Health Center -- compared to 9 calories per gram in dietary fat and 4 calories per gram in protein and carbohydrates. Therefore, heavy drinking can quickly cause your calorie intake to skyrocket. However, moderate drinking is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, note authors of a 2008 review in the “American Journal of Therapeutics.”
According to the McKinley Health Center, a 6-ounce glass of merlot contains about 142.5 calories. Drinking two 6-ounce glasses of merlot adds up to about 285 calories. Your total daily calorie needs for healthy weight maintenance depend on your age, gender and activity level. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute suggests most women need about 1,600 to 2,400 calories daily, while men often require 2,000 to 3,000 calories a day.
The American Heart Association suggests men limit alcohol consumption to one to two drinks – or less – daily and women drink no more than one drink per day. The AHA classifies 4 ounces of wine as one alcoholic drink. Therefore, if you drink a 6-ounce glass of merlot, you’re drinking 1.5 alcoholic beverages. Women who stick with the AHA recommendation and drink one alcoholic beverage – or less – daily would choose a 4-ounce glass of merlot, which contains 95 calories.
Wine vs. Other Drinks
The calorie content of alcoholic beverages varies by the type of alcohol and ingredients you mix with it. Six ounces of regular beer contain 70 calories, 6 ounces of light beer provide about 55 calories, a 6-ounce serving of Champagne contains 157.5 calories, a 6-ounce margarita contains 660 calories, a 6-ounce pina colada provides 293 calories and a 6-ounce rum and diet cola contains about 65 calories, according to the McKinley Health Center. While 4 ounces of merlot wine is classified as one drink, so is 12 ounces of beer, 1 ounce of 100-proof spirits and 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits, notes the AHA.
Risks of Too Much Alcohol
While many healthy adults can drink merlot – or other alcoholic beverages – in moderation and maintain healthy body weights, consuming excess wine can lead to weight gain and increased disease risks. According to the AHA, people who consume more than the recommended alcohol limit per day have increased risks for obesity, high blood pressure, stroke, suicide, alcoholism, accidents and breast cancer.