This article was originally published in the February/March 2019 issue of Paleo Magazine.


We can argue forever over whether or not our ancestors drank fermented beverages. There’s archaeological evidence that people throughout China and the Middle East were enjoying fermented beverages as early as 7,000 B.C., so it’s fair to say that drinking alcohol is a popular pastime. The reality is that, in our modern world, alcoholic beverages are extremely popular and, for some, an important part of the social experience. Hangovers notwithstanding, most of us are looking to balance moderate social drinking with a healthy and fit lifestyle. The founders of FitVine Wine share this goal, so they set out to create a wine that tastes delicious and causes less metabolic damage than other alcoholic beverages. “The initial mindset behind it was, ‘Can we recreate a cleaner, low-sugar wine that we can bring to the active community?'” says co-founder Mark Warren.

Even a recreational wine enthusiast knows how complex and layered the process of making, enjoying, and pairing wine is; that’s why there are people who have dedicated their lives to the study of it. Mark and co-founder Tom Beaton aren’t sommeliers, nor do they take themselves or their tastes too seriously, but they do aim to appeal to wine lovers from every demographic, saying that they create high-quality, “easy-drinking” wine that isn’t meant to replace your special vintage. “But just because we’re paying attention to sugar and carbs doesn’t mean we aren’t paying attention to taste and quality, too,” says Tom.

FitVine co-founder Tom Beaton and Mark Warren.

Beloved by CrossFitters, biohackers like Ben Greenfield, and wine aficionados alike, FitVine puts equal weight on the quality of their ingredients and processing as on their end result. “We are very picky when selecting grapes,” explains Mark. “We choose only the highest-quality grapes from small farms.” FitVine’s pesticide-free grapes are grown at high altitude and undergo a special, secondary fermentation process to reduce residual sugars—a common culprit of the dreaded hangover—in the final product.

“We aren’t reinventing the wheel,” Mark emphasizes. “We use an old European approach and pick the grapes a little earlier, so the sugar hasn’t come forth as much, and then put the wine though the extended fermentation process,” resulting in a wine with a more “dry” mouthfeel and less sugar. “Our wines average less than one gram of sugar per liter, or less than 0.09 grams of sugar per glass,” says Mark. For some perspective, FitVine’s Chardonnay contains about .04 grams of sugar per 5-ounce glass, while the standard glass of Chardonnay will contain about 1.4 grams—and anyone who enjoys wine knows that those glasses (and the sugar) can add up quickly.

FitVine also includes no flavor additives in their wine, a detail most wine drinkers don’t even consider. Currently, there are no federal requirements to inform consumers of exactly what’s in the wine they are purchasing in terms of added sugars and preservatives—and even toxins like arsenic. That means that many wine companies can (and do) add additional flavors, colors, sugar, and preservatives—all extras that can trigger negative effects in some people. For example, the delicious red you brought to your friend’s dinner party the other night might include an added ingredient called Mega Purple: “Some large brands want to keep vintages looking and tasting the same across years, so they add Mega Purple, which gives red wine a deep, bright, consistent color,” says Mark.

And then there’s the issue of tannins, naturally occurring polyphenols found in the skins of fruit, including grapes. Tannins impact the boldness and longevity of wine; wines containing higher tannin levels last longer on shelves. Such wines are also known to cause greater negative effects in some individuals—think headaches—than do lower-tannin wines. “All our wines are very low-tannin. They are not meant to be stored for ten years; they are meant to be drunk within two or three years,” says Tom.

The response to FitVine has been so positive that they recently expanded their offerings: In addition to their Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio, and a limited-edition Holiday Blend, they now offer a Prosecco and a Rosé.

You don’t have to drink to be social—but you don’t have to give up your wine to be fit, either. It’s all about creating your own, sustainable lifestyle, says Mark. “If we can bring some balance to people’s lives, that’s our goal. If you can have a glass of wine on Tuesday night with dinner and have fewer negative effects, and we’re bringing some happiness to you because you can enjoy wine while still working on your health, we’ve won.”