Red Wine

Alcohol and the facts

Alcohol content is also expressed as a percentage of the whole drink. Look on a bottle of wine or a can of lager and you'll see either a percentage, followed by the abbreviation ‘ABV’ (alcohol by volume), or sometimes just the word ‘vol’. Wine that says ‘13% ABV’ on its label contains 13% pure alcohol.

The alcoholic content in similar types of drinks varies a lot. Some ales are 3.5%. But stronger continental lagers can be 5% or even 6% ABV. Same goes for wine where the ABV of stronger 'new world' wines from South America, South Africa and Australia can exceed 14% ABV, compared to the 13% ABV average of European wines.

This means that just one pint of strong lager or a large glass of wine can contain more than three units of alcohol.

Take a quick Self-Assessment Test to look at your drinking habits and how they may affect your health.


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to alcohol

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the alcohol limit for drivers is 80 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, 35 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath, or 107 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of urine. In most other European countries, the limit is less, usually 50 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of blood. If you’re going to be drinking, here are some suggestions:


  • Drink responsibly. Limit the amount of alcohol you drink and alternate drinking alcohol with water or non-alcoholic beverages. Say "No" – alcohol is not for everyone, every time or every place.

  • Include food. Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Food slows down the absorption of alcohol.

  • Know your drink. Not all drinks are the same (a 1-pint beer does not equal a martini).

  • Plan ahead to get home safely. Designate a driver, take a taxi, bus or train, stay overnight at a friend’s house or hotel, or simply walk home.

  • Keep it legal. Don’t provide alcohol to anyone under 18.

Track and Calculate Units at Drinkaware to look at your drinking habits and how they may affect your health.

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