Wine is a popular alcoholic beverage. There are many varieties of wine in different countries. Most are made from grapes, but other materials can be used as well. Wines are commonly derived from fruits, but they can also be made from less common starting materials like rice.
If you’re an avid wine drinker, it pays to know how much alcohol is in your favorite beverage. Read on to find out, plus the other effects of alcohol on your body.
How would I know the alcohol content of wine?
It’s all in the label. If you look at your typical bottle of wine, you’ll see the alcohol percentage printed on the label. For many wines, this is represented as a proof number, which is twice the alcohol percentage of the drink. For example, if you see a bottle of wine labeled “24 proof”, that means it has 12% alcohol by volume (ABV). Other bottles of wine are marked with the actual ABV instead of proof number.
Does wine have a lot of alcohol?
To answer this question, let’s compare the alcohol content of wine to other alcoholic beverages. Different drinks have varying alcohol percentages, so we will look at the average numbers here.
Wine typically has 12% ABV. Hard drinks, like vodka, tequila, and whiskey, have much higher numbers; most of them are 40% ABV, but some can go as high as 50% ABV. Beer, on the other hand, is a lot lighter: most beers only have 5% ABV.
With that, wine is kind of in the middle compared to other alcoholic drinks. You can drink more wine than whiskey before getting drunk, but it takes less wine than beer to achieve the same thing.
The key to avoiding intoxication is to drink wine moderately.
What is moderate drinking?
The guidelines of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) state that moderate drinking is:
- For men, no more than 15 glasses of wine per week
- For women, a maximum of 8 glasses of wine per week
The difference is due to the fact that men are more tolerant to alcohol than women. There are exceptions, but in general, this is the case.
The standard definition of “one glass” of wine is 5 fluid ounces of the beverage. This is measured at the average ABV of wine, which is at 12%. That means one glass of wine contains 0.6 fluid ounces of pure alcohol.
If you drink more wine than the CDC-recommended limits, that’s already considered heavy drinking. This exposes you to higher risks of adverse side effects.
What happens if I drink wine heavily?
Heavy drinking will elevate the level of alcohol in your body. This is measured through a statistic called BAC, short for blood alcohol concentration. The higher your BAC, the more intoxicated you feel.
In most states in the US, the legal definition of intoxication is when a person’s BAC reaches 0.08%. At this point, you will begin to show the following signs:
- Pleasurable sensations
- Numbness of feelings
- Emotional arousal
- Memory problems
- Decreased alertness
- Impaired judgment
In other words, you likely will not be able to walk straight. Your vision and hearing would not be as sensitive. You may feel headaches, or you could see things around you spinning. You also may not be able to think clearly, and you could have trouble remembering things.
Driving would also be dangerous at this point. With impaired senses, alertness, and thinking, you will not be able to react in time to traffic signals, road signs, and obstacles on the road. You may not be able to step on the brakes quickly enough or regulate your speed. With these, the chances of getting into an accident are higher.
The more wine you drink, the higher your BAC will go. If you’re not careful, you may progress into alcohol poisoning. This happens when your BAC reaches the range of 0.25% to 0.39%.
At BACs of 0.4% and above, your life would be in danger. This much alcohol in your blood can put you into a coma. In the worst case, the excess alcohol can stop your breathing and heartbeat, resulting in sudden death.
How do I avoid the harmful effects of alcohol in wine?
The best and most foolproof way of avoiding the effects of alcohol is to not drink any in the first place. But if abstinence is hard, there are still measures you can take to put alcohol at bay.
First of all, know your limits. Each person has a different level of tolerance for alcohol. This depends on factors such as age, sex, body weight, metabolism, and pre-existing conditions. Generally, people who are younger, heavier, and those who have fewer health conditions can drink more wine before getting intoxicated. Also, men are usually more tolerant to alcohol than women.
Once you know what your limit is, stick to it. Discipline yourself to never drink any more glasses than what you can take. For example, if you begin to feel tipsy after four glasses of wine, avoid drinking a fifth glass. For best results, drink up to three glasses only. That way, you can avoid the tipsy feeling.
It also helps to follow the CDC’s guidelines on moderate drinking. If you’re a male, limit yourself to 15 glasses of wine per week. If you’re a female, drink no more than 8 glasses in a week. If you drink below these numbers, then that’s great news for your health.
Drinking wine after a full meal works wonders as well. If your stomach is full, alcohol won’t be absorbed into your blood as quickly as when your stomach is empty. This way, your BAC will not climb too fast. In turn, your body has time to process and eliminate the alcohol.
Another helpful tip is drinking wine slowly. Resist the temptation to down the entire glass in one go. Doing that will send a concentrated dose of alcohol into your body in a short time. Instead, take small sips of wine at a time. You’ll take longer to finish one glass, which means you can enjoy longer drinking sessions while avoiding intoxication.