The amount of alcohol that is poured into a glass of wine is dependent on its alcohol level percentage by volume which is known as ABV or alcohol by volume.
The alcohol level is determined by the amount of sugar that had developed in the grapes during the harvesting period. The more sugar found in the grape, the higher the alcohol level tends to be.
Despite this correlation, this doesn’t necessarily mean that sweeter wines have a higher alcohol content although this is sometimes the case. The true alcohol level is formed during the fermentation process when the yeast has consumed the sugar and converted it into alcohol.
Other factors may influence the alcohol level such as the environment where the grapes are grown, the climate and the style of fermentation process. So although grapes with more sugar tend to produce higher alcohol wine, this can be affected by the wine making process.
How much alcohol a glass of wine contains
The alcohol level in a glass of wine depends on the type of wine but on average tends to be between 11% to 13% alcohol. However, wine bottles have a much wider range with some having as little as 5.5% alcohol rate all the way up to 20%.
This is due to the amount of alcohol by volume so a glass of wine is likely to have more alcohol due to the smaller volume of the vessel.
When tasting, the alcohol will present itself as a burning sensation in the back of the mouth and throat. The higher the alcohol percentage, the warmer and richer the taste will be in the mouth.
Throughout the years, the alcohol content in wine has grown exponentially. This is due to increased pressure on winemakers to create more intense flavors which means that riper grapes are selected which are much sharper in flavor and higher in sugar content.
When grapes are left on the vine, the wine tends to have a more rich and matured flavor which is ideal for aged wines and vintages. A lot of companies that create these intense flavors normally use scientific intervention to manipulate the growing period for the grapes and speed up the selection process.
A warmer climate can also encourage this so lots of winemakers keep their grapes in controlled environments where they can have a maintained temperature.
Now you know how the alcohol content is determined and how it can be manipulated during the wine making process, it’s time to discuss what kinds of wine fall under the different categories of very low, moderately low, high and very high. With different types of wine slotting into each category, you’re sure to find a glass of wine that suits you.
- Very low – under 12.5%
Sparkling wines include: Italian Asti and Italian Prosecco.
White wines include: French Vouvray, Portuguese Vinho Verde and Spanish Txacolina.
Rosé wines include: California White Zinfandel and Portuguese rosés.
- Moderately low – 12.5% to 13.5%
Sparkling wines include: California sparkling wine, French Champagne and Spanish Cava.
White wines include: Austrian Grüner Veltliner, French Loire and Spanish Albarino.
Rosé wines include: French rosés and Spanish rosés.
Red wines include: French Beaujolais and Burgundy, French Bordeaux and Italian Chianti.
- High – 13.5% to 14.5%
White wines include: Australian Chardonnay, Chilean Chardonnay and South African Chenin Blanc.
Red wines include: California Cabernet Sauvignon, California Syrah and French Rhône Red.
- Very high – more than 14.5%
White wines include: French Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise (fortified), Portuguese Madeira (fortified) and Spanish sherry (fortified).
Red wines include: California Petite Sirah, Italian Amarone and Portuguese Port (fortified).
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it OK to have a glass of wine every night?
As with any food or drink, wine is okay when consumed in moderation and even comes with some health benefits as well as providing relaxation. The conesus usually dictates that women should not exceed one glass of wine a day whereas men should consume no more than two glasses of wine per day.
What equals a glass of wine?
If you are unsure how much a glass of wine compares to other alcoholic beverages in terms of the ABV, 5 ounces of wine is usually around 12% alcohol which equates to 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits which is around 40% alcohol.
How many drinks is a 1.5 liter bottle of wine?
A standard wine bottle is 750ml which will fill around five glasses, a 1.5 liter wine bottle which is known as a magnum bottle provides around 10 glasses and a 3 liter wine bottle or box can fill 20 glasses.