Red Wine. Photo by https://flic.kr/p/dpp3iv

First Time Drinking on Keto

I’m almost at the 4 week point since starting keto, and last night I had my first alcoholic beverages since starting. I just spent way too long trying to find the wine I was drinking; it was a syrah from Costco and it was wonderful for someone that typically prefers white wines. (I bought it for the cool label with black birds flying… nope, can’t find it anywhere. No idea what it was).

Zero-carb drinking on keto is pretty much limited to hard liquors – and even with those, you need to be careful. Flavored rums, for example, can have a ton of carbs. Wine can be a low-ish carb option, if you don’t drink the whole bottle. (Ahem that’s a BIG “if” for me). A 5oz glass of wine typically has 4-5g carbs. Syrah is listed as a 5g-carb wine.

I was at 26g net carbs for the day when I headed out to the Halloween party, so I knew I was about to have my highest carb day since starting keto if I drank any wine. I’d also read that alcohol hits you faster on keto, so I wasn’t planning to drink much.

I ended up having about 16oz of wine. I rounded up to 20oz under the assumption that I was more likely to be underestimating than overestimating my pours. That’s 20g carbs of wine, so I came in just under 50g for the day. Some people can eat up to 50g net carbs per day and stay in nutritional ketosis. I don’t yet know my limits. I’ve stayed under 25g the whole month.

When I got home last night (about 2 hours after I stopped drinking), my ketostix told me I was still in ketosis – a lighter pink reading, but still in it. By morning, I was still reading pink, and this afternoon, still pink. So I don’t think at 50g I was knocked out of ketosis. I’m also not having any other symptoms of being knocked out like sugar cravings.

It also could be that my body has become fat-adapted pretty quickly (the body’s preference of burning fat for fuel over glucose), and I’ve read that when you’re fat-adapted your body can tolerate a one-time carb swing pretty efficiently and go back to burning ketones as soon as it’s an option. Either way, it’s good to know that a slightly higher carb day doesn’t derail me.

How did the alcohol affect me? Well, it was kind of a bummer. I didn’t even feel buzzed, yet by the time I got home and went to bed I was having minor hangover feelings. I was also pretty dehydrated, so I drank as much water as I could throughout the night, but I didn’t sleep well. I feel fine today (just tired from not sleeping). I was kind of looking forward to feeling more buzzed with less alcohol. Oh well. I’ll get another chance soon with one more birthday celebration to go. I’ll probably try liquor for round 2.

Photo by https://flic.kr/p/dpp3iv 
Sutter Home Sweet Red

Wine: Sutter Home Sweet Red

Continuing the adventure of finding wines that I might like, I took the advice of a grocery store wine savant and tried this Sutter Home Sweet Red.

Sutter Home Sweet Red

Sutter Home Sweet Red

Like my Flip Flop Moscato experience, I probably wouldn’t have tried this wine if not for the advice of the grocery store wine man. In this case, the fact that it’s from a big “brand name” winery would have made me think I wouldn’t like it. (This is, I realize, a bit counter-intuitive. There’s probably some room here to do a study on the wacked-out things that form our first impressions).

The bottle of Sweet Red sat in my little wine rack for a couple weeks before I rolled the dice with it. Why?

This:

Corkscrew

Corkscrew

I’ve seen all of the horror stories of wine corks flying across rooms and decapitating people. I’m no dummy.

This corkscrew thing looked like a medieval torture device, which would have been fine if I was using it to slay a dragon in Ultima Online, but in my kitchen? I was nervous.

I watched a few videos on YouTube to figure out how to work this thing, and it didn’t look like rocket science. I’m happy to report that it was actually very easy to use, and I removed the cork with great success. No cats were harmed in the uncorking of this wine.

One thing I did learn, though, is that I need to invest in a wine bottle topper? Cap? What are they called? Something to cap the bottle when you don’t want to down the whole thing in one sitting.

I just flipped the cork upside down and used it to cap the bottle. It seemed to work. I had the bottle for a good 2 weeks and managed to finally finish it. I was warned by many that wine doesn’t last more than a couple days once opened. Maybe I’m too much of a wine n00b to know the difference, but it tasted fine to me.

This Sutter Home Sweet Red will definitely be on my list of random chill-out wines. It was easy to drink, though did have a little bit of a pucker-factor to it. I think that’s just par for the course with red wines. They’re definitely pretty to look at!

Flip Flop Moscato

Wine: Flip Flop Moscato

Life is full of firsts… first steps, first days of school, first dates, first kisses. Somewhere in that continuum lies the first bottle of wine.

Flip Flop Moscato

Flip Flop Moscato

I would not have considered buying this bottle of wine had I not run into the wine guy at the grocery store. (I also would not have expected the grocery store to have a knowledgable wine guy, but sure enough – this guy moonlighting in the liquor department had actually been running a local wine store for 20 years).

My assumption was that a bottle of wine that cost <$10 would not be good, and I didn't want to waste my time, money, or newbie wine palate on cheap wine. You know what happens when we assume.... I explained my admittedly thin observations of my wine tastes to the guy, and he recommended this Flip Flop Moscato, as well as Sutter Home's Sweet Red. I took the two home with me and tried the Moscato first (as I was still dubious about my ability to enjoy a red wine). Those of you on Facebook that evening can attest to the degree to which I enjoyed this bottle of Moscato. It was sweet and simple and didn't leave me with the cringing aftertaste. I can also report that it goes very well with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. There's another bottle of it in my wine rack now!

First glass of wine - a German riesling

My Foray into Wine

Maybe “foray” is a bit too strong a word here… but since moving to Virginia, I am surrounded by wine and wineries. Apparently, Virginia is in the Top 10 wine producing states in the US. The Shenandoah Valley’s growing season is friendly to nearly every varietal of grape. I like grapes. Is it possible that I like wine, too? I suppose I live in a good region to find out!

I’ve never liked wine in the past, just as I’ve never liked beer. Those facts are inconvenient, as sitting around drinking vodka-based cocktails all evening has a much different effect than sipping something “lighter,” let’s say.

And I’ve always been jealous of the people that could pair up wine with food. It seems there’s such an interesting combination of art and science that goes into the process.

One thing that concerns me is that I don’t eat most of the foods that wines are notably paired up with – red meat, poultry, seafood… ummm, yeah. What wine goes well with tofu? Green beans? What about kale?

Still, I’m curious enough to take on the adventure. So, here it is – my first attempt at learning to enjoy wine.

Like most investigative journeys, I started on Google, which led me to a quiz on the Wall Street Journal’s site that offered insights to my potential wine preferences, based on my likes/dislikes of salty foods, beer, coffee, tea, and other things. Try Budometer – scroll down about half way to the link to the quiz.

My Taste Budometer

My Taste Budometer

My taste buds are hyper-sensitive. This doesn’t surprise me. When I re-take the quiz with other acceptable answers, it puts me in the Sweet category. So, it appears that I will be a picky wine drinker.

Yesterday was my birthday, so I set out to test the results of the Budometer. My plan: buy a bottle of Chardonnay from Dave Matthews’ Virginia winery, Blenheim Vineyards (not because I will enjoy it – I probably won’t like it, according to my Budometer results – but because it’s from a winery owned by Dave Matthews! Squeee!), and buy a bottle of a German riesling wine.

Wandering the wine section of the store (I was at Whole Foods) felt a bit like being 21 all over again. (Let’s not count how many years ago that was… ahem…). I felt generally lost and clueless. I was armed with a few key words to look for on the labels, but that was it. Thankfully, WF has a very well organized wine section. First up, I hit the “Local” shelves for my Dave wine. Then, I moved to the German section to seek out a riesling. (My back-up keyword was Moscato, also a sweet variety). I discovered that there is also an “Organic” section (w00t!) and an “Eco-Friendly” section – both of which I plan to explore!

Very few of the wines indicated on the label how sweet they would be. Bummer. I did find one that indicated it was medium-sweet, which according to Budometer is the low-end of my sweetness tolerance. In the absence of any other well-defined options, I listened to the bottle (pick me! pick me!) and took home a Schmitt Sohne blue bottle riesling. $13.

Schmitt Sohne Riesling

Schmitt Sohne Riesling

I chilled it in the fridge for a little while before I got around to opening it. I surely don’t have a wine cellar, so the whole wine temperature thing will be a challenge for me. After dinner, I busted out a wine glass from my hometown and got to pouring.

First glass of wine - a German riesling

First glass of wine - a German riesling

Keep in mind – I have no clue what I’m doing. I just bought Wine for Dummies. Literally.

I swirled it around the glass, nearly spilling it all over myself.

I sniffed it. (Whew! Smelled like wine!)

I took a sip.

And…. not bad! Tasted like wine (I have a feeling the whole “dry” thing is the part I don’t like about the flavor of wine), but it had a mild finish. So maybe it’s not too dry?

All that stuff about apple aromas, and a firm and fruity palate… yeah, whatever. I smelled the stuff repeatedly over the course of 2 glasses and couldn’t smell anything but wine. Couldn’t taste apples (though by the end of the second glass, my brain thought maybe I was starting to taste something? Could’ve just been the buzz).

From this wine newbie, I’ve got a long way to go in developing my palate!

But I am intrigued that all of the different wines come from different kinds of grapes. There have to be a few out there I will enjoy!

As is, this riesling was not bad. I might even call it “good” for wine (considering my tendency to dislike wine). My next purchase will likely be something sweeter – but probably another riesling.

Stay tuned for more adventures in wine! If you’ve got any sweet wine suggestions for me, feel free to share!