the best bargain wine (that costs $0.65 a glass!)

One of the bummers of a diabetes diagnosis is the realization that your drink choices will forever be more limited, due to the fact that liquids absorb into the bloodstream faster than food (so sugary drinks = instant blood glucose skyrocketing). It’s convenient if you’re ever treating a low (“Shelby, drink your juice!”) but sucks if you have a taste for fruit tea.

I was diagnosed with T1D the summer after my first daughter was born, so naturally as a 20-something social drinker, I was curious as to how my beloved wine and Corona Lights would fit into my new dietary restrictions. It was a pleasant realization to discover I could still stomach drier wines and less-sugary booze with little impact on my blood sugar (sometimes, it even lowers my levels!).

I consider myself to be moderately picky when it comes to wine. I’m not a wine connoisseur but I have had plennnnnty of gross bottles that have ultimately been poured out (both before diabetes and afterwards). I’m also a loyalist, so if I find something that’s really good, I stick with it.

Red wine has never bothered my blood sugar in the past (convenient, since I like the taste!), so oftentimes I’ll reach for a Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec. Those varietals tend to be light enough to not feel like my mouth has been swabbed by cotton but still taste good (and more grownup than a saccharine dessert wine). I’ve had plenty of tasty red blends (my favorite is Barista, but I also love Heavyweight Petit Syrah), but for casual get-togethers, we like to go cheaper. We did an Italian wine tasting class a few years back sponsored by our favorite local spirits shop and they turned us onto good boxed wines. Imagine my delight when I stumbled upon an actually GOOD boxed wine at my favorite grocery store… Trader Joe’s!

The cheap, the good, the bad…

I initially tried out the Sauvignon Blanc (which happens to be my standby white varietal), and once I realized it was actually good (and they have a stellar return policy if you hate something you get there!), I had to try out the red. The store assistant told me they tried all the boxes when they came out and the Shiraz is apparently super gross, but I can personally vouch for the Cabernet Sauvignon — it’s excellent! PLUSSSS at only $12.99, you get 20 glasses per box, which comes out to less than $0.70/glass.

It’s perfect for drinking with Italian food at home (so good stirred in homemade marinara, too), or to complement low-key burger/steak dinners. I skip the bun when we do burgers and opt for spaghetti squash or zoodles to make those meals more #diabeticanddelicious.

trader joe's red wine

I was reading the other day about the carb count in certain alcohols, from a diabetic perspective. Dry red wines are (as a generality) considered to have an insignificant amount of carbs, so you don’t need to bolus for them! #winning Of course, take heed that booze can lower blood sugar levels; so drink smart (i.e. not too much, only drink with food, check your levels, stay hydrated, etc etc etc).

Any other really great cheap-o wines I should know about?! Or good boxed varietals? SPILL!

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