The SCD Diet and Alcohol: Part II… SCD Legal Wine Guide

by Steven Wright

In Part I of this series we discussed alcohol’s effects on our digestive systems and I gave a listing of legal and Illegal alcohol types. Of the types of legal alcohols they can be broken down into wines and liquors. In this post, we will learn all about wines and how someone on the SCD diet can identify which wines to drink to minimize damage to the digestive system. For Part III go here.

About Wine

Wine is made from grapes (keeping it simple) that are crushed and then fermented using different kinds of added yeast. The yeast eats the natural sugars from the grapes and coverts them to ethanol alcohol. The fermentation process can stop naturally when the yeast consumes as much of the sugar as it can or it can be stopped prematurely to allow more sugar to remain in the wine. Wine is usually classified as “Dry” or “Sweet” based on how much sugar is left in the wine. This residual sugar amount is usually measured in grams of sugar per liter of wine. There will always be some amount of sugar left in the wine as grapes contain some sugars that are unfermentable.

Classifying Sweetness of Wine

The level of dryness in wines seems to be a bit unclear. My research consistently showed that any wine of over 45 grams of sugar per liter (45 g/l) is considered sweet.  That would lend one to believe that any wine under this amount is considered dry and therefore SCD legal. This is where the research and definitions of wine tends to get a bit muddy.

While the amount of sugar left in wine is measured in grams per liter it is usually expressed in a residual sugar percentage (RS %). The sweet wine level that measured 45g/l would therefore give 4.5% on the residual sugar scale. Here is a great site showing a very nice table of the ranges of residual sugar and their appropriate dryness levels. It is important to note that a dry wine, as defined by residual sugar content, can taste sweet and a sweet wine can actually taste dry. This can be a result of any number of factors during the wine making process.

So, What Can I Drink?

From all the research I’ve done it appears the conservative approach for SCD’ers is to drink only wine that is below 1% RS (sometimes referred to as extra dry). However, because there are so many different ideas about levels of dryness it is most likely safe to assume any wine under 2% RS is going to be safe to consume as well.

So, how do I pick a wine at the store? That is a great question… I’ve found it only gets more confusing from here. The primary problem is that wine manufactures aren’t forced to list the RS percentage on their labels. So, without an actual number to look at we are forced to consider many different factors when searching for SCD legal wines. The first thing to notice is the name and placement of the wine in the store. Luckily for us, most wines sold in stores are table wines (designed to be served with food and usually drier). Sweet wines are usually referred to as dessert wines and are not usually on the same shelf as table wines.

Now as far as the colors and types (names) of wines, there are dry red and dry white wines. However, there doesn’t appear to be many dry blush wines so I would stay away from this category. Wine is named after the grapes that were used to make it, and as discussed above, we know that a wine maker can stop fermentation at anytime to adjust the level of sugar (sweetness) in the wine. That leaves us with another issue; any wine type (name) such as zinfandel can be both dry or sweet depending on how it was made. Below are a couple of lists of typically dry and sweet wines.  These lists below are just supposed to be a broad guide if you don’t know where to start looking because any wine type can be sweet or dry.

Dry Red Wines: Merlot, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Bordeaux, Syrah

Dry White Wines: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Brut or Extra Brut Champagne

Illegal Sweet Wines: White Zinfandel, Late Harvest Wines (usually Riesling), Ice Wines, Sec or Demi-Sec or Doux Champagne, Port, Sherry

So, now we have just enough information to be dangerous when buying wine. Since we don’t have a definite way to examine a wine the best we can do is choose a table wine that is usually drier (see table above) and then confirm with someone working in the wine section that it is indeed a dry or extra dry wine. Make sure you read the labels and verify that is supposed to be served with food and finally… don’t be afraid to Ask. The employees of the store will probably have a good idea as to the level of dryness of any wine that you ask about.

Stay tuned for the last part of this series, in which I’ll dive into the world of distilled liquors. Anyone have any other wine selection recommendations?


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About the author

Steven Wright Steve Wright is a health engineer and author. In 2009, he reached a breaking point when IBS took over his life and the doctors didn't know how to help. Since then, he has transformed his health and started to help others naturally heal stomach problems. You can check out his story here and find him on Google+, Facebook or Twitter.

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet Works

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Terry February 17, 2010 at 11:15 pm

I have had good luck with Malbec too.


Steven Wright February 18, 2010 at 1:21 pm

@ Terry – Great point I forgot about Malbec wines, personally I usually enjoy Malbecs more than Merlots.


Margaret Stone April 8, 2011 at 8:32 am

I’m on week one of doing it right, with great results. This morning I had a regular poop with a little forse necessary.
Just reading this very useful articel on wines. At what point is it safe to add dry wines?


Steven Wright April 16, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Hi Margaret,

Great question – I think it is best to wait until you really see some healing, or have a week or so of good poops. Listen to this podcast where I go more indepth on this very issue


Sandy May 11, 2011 at 6:03 pm

This is fabulous info. I made a half-hearted attempt to Google this type of info and didn’t get very far. I’m happy to see that Reisling is on the list!


Jordan Reasoner May 13, 2011 at 8:27 am

Thanks Sandy!


Joyce September 2, 2011 at 5:33 pm

Can you explain why we have to avoid a higher level of residual sugar? If no other sweeteners have been added, then aren’t we just getting natural sugar from grapes? Wouldn’t that be a monosaccharide?


Lisa September 19, 2012 at 8:51 pm

Interesting! I would have assumed that all Rieslings are too sweet to be legal. The “Late Harvest” Rieslings are called Spatlese and Auslese. They are very sweet.


Hans Schuman December 27, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Hi – isn’t the sugar from grapes fructose which is SCD legal?


Steven Wright December 30, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Hi Hans – the very small amounts of sugars contained in fruits and honey are SCD legal. Its the man-made and processed stuff that is bad news.


Brian July 2, 2013 at 10:41 am

Someone just told me that any wine that is 12% ABV or more is considered dry. Would this be an appropriate guide when looking to an SCD legal wine?


Steven Wright July 5, 2013 at 12:17 pm

I’ve never seen anything that would suggest ABV could tell the amount of dryness of a wine.


cathi Gross November 12, 2013 at 5:47 pm

I know one place you can actually find out how many carbohydrates are in at least 5 ounces of wine the Company is Yellow tail. They have several brands that would fall under the safe category and the neat thing is that one can go to there website and they list the nutritional facts for each bottle they create. My favorite wine of there is Big Bold Red and it has on only 2 carbohydrates per 5 ounce glass of wine. Here is there website


Toby November 24, 2013 at 11:27 am

I live in Sweden. So on out Wines it probably say. Grams/liter. Instead of
Rs%. Am i ok if the sugar per gram is less Than 45g/l. Or whats the limit? /Toby


Sedary June 18, 2014 at 9:54 pm

The official site states that wine bottlers are allowed to add cane sugar to their wines before bottling. THIS is why some wines are illegal. IF they contained only sugars from grapes, they would ALL be legal. You will just have to contact each company about their bottling practices. It is possible to get away with cheating on the diet after awhile but the true reason for the diet is not only to repair damage but to kill off the offending pathogens. Therefore, do NOT drink any wine to which cane sugar has been added.


Amy January 25, 2016 at 8:15 pm

Thank you for writing these! Really helpful, really appreciated


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