St. Patrick’s Day is one of the biggest drinking days of the year and Chicago celebrates with the best; from the green river to the parade, Chicagoans are always in the spirit for Irish-themed fun.

Chicago runners take full advantage of this cause for celebration, participating in several organized races from the legendary Shamrock Shuffle 8K to the newest Chicagoland race, the AMITA Health Bolingbrook Half Marathon. But despite our love for holiday-themed races, many runners still enjoy the post-run mug, or two, of green beer.

Until recently, if athletes chose to indulge in an adult beverage, only the traditional choices were available of beer, wine or spirits. In the last few years, there have thankfully become more options for fit-minded persons, over the age of 21, of course.

My absolute favorite for athletes, especially those in training, is FitVine Wine. I was introduced to this product through a Facebook post and was intrigued. I had tried another low-calorie wine and was unimpressed, as it had simply tasted like watered down wine. Diluting any beverage would cut the calorie count down so I did not see real merit in the low calorie claims.

I visited the FitVine website and found a great selection of wines with cases that shipped for free, so I was off to a better start than I had found with a competitor brand. Plus, FitVine has a great motto: “We crush grapes, You crush life.”

I tried the Chardonnay first and was amazed that the wine was flavorful with a crisp, dry finish. There was no hint of dilution or a weakness in the taste. I reached out to FitVine Co-Founder, Mark R. Warren to learn more about the process used to create such a high level wine without the high number of calories.

“To create wines that are both clean and rich in flavor and mouthfeel, we put our wines through malolactic fermentation and perform dry fermentation with no residual sugar levels,” explained Warren. “In doing this, our wines tend to have 1/3 less calories and carbohydrates than typical wines. Per 5oz glass, both the Chardonnay & Sauvignon Blanc have 90 calories and 3g of carbohydrates at 13.4 percent alcohol. The Cabernet & Pinot Noir have 95 calories at 13.9 percent alcohol. The remaining sugar is that which is naturally found in the alcohol which is less than 1.5g per liter.”

I also sampled the Cabernet Sauvignon, a full bodied red wine with hints of chocolate flavor. Many people steer clear from reds due to the high number of sulfites and sugar which can often lead to a dreaded hangover. Luckily, not only is the sugar level low in this wine, but the sulfite level is low, alleviating that painful morning after, which can compromise a strict workout schedule.

“Our wines contain about 1/3 the sulfites of typical wines,” detailed Warren. “Many wines have sulfite levels of 75 to 150 ppm (parts per million), but FitVine wines are at 35 ppm. Additionally, at primary fermentation, the SO2 (sulfur dioxide) content is kept at a low level.”

The low counts of both calories and sulfites make FitVine the exact right indulgence for athletes, especially those in training. Having a glass of wine will not result in missing a long run or day of cross training due to feeling bloated or hung over. This wine is crafted for athletes to easily fit into their active, healthy lifestyle. Remember, it’s not only about finding a wine with low calories, but also finding one with high flavor quality and low sulfites.

I would strongly recommend this wine as an addition to a healthy lifestyle, and I am not the only one. With nearly 1,000 reviews on their website, touting a 4.5 star average, it is easy to see why this product is gaining popularity at a fast speed.

Started about two years ago, FitVine will be coming to the Chicagoland area this spring beginning in Whole Foods Markets, Jewel-Osco and Binny’s. You can purchase all of their wines now online at

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Mandi has been running for over 25 years and has participated in the Chicago, Detroit, and Boston Marathons. Mandi regularly competes in regional events and enjoys being a part of several running groups including CARA and the Badgerland Striders. She is a co-host on the Ten Junk Miles podcast and looks forward to hosting the Chicago Athlete Podcast. An RRCA certified coach and Les Mills certified instructor, Mandi is also a coach with Chicago Athlete Coaching. Mandi is a local government attorney by weekday and race warrior by weekend.


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