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Caymus Vineyards 40th Anniversary Cabernet Sauvignon

How to calculate units of alcohol

by Janine / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Many regular drinks have no idea how many actual of units of alcohol they are consuming and with the guidelines set at around 20 units per week (less for women), it is easy to find yourself well over the recommended limits after only two or three nights out on the town.

Making matters worse, wine drinkers have probably been drinking many more units than they think.  Why?  Because many red wines are now made with more alcohol.  It's not unusual to find bottles of Cabernet or Shiraz topping 14% alcohol, especially from hotter climates like Australia and Chile.

So how do you figure out how many units were in those three large glasses of wine that you enjoyed last night when you met your friends for dinner?  It's actually quite simple. Here's how you calculate it:

Step 1: Find out or guess how many mls of liquid your wine glass holds.  Tip: A small glass of wine is usually about 125 mls and a large glass is around 250 mls.

Step 2: Take a look at the wine bottle label and look for the ABV (alcohol by volume) amount.  It will usually range between 12.5% to 15%.

Step 3: Multiple the number of mls by the percentage number and divide by 1,000.

Example:  I drink one large glass of wine, which holds 250 mls of wine, and the red Aussie Shiraz that I'm drinking is 14%.  The calculation would be 250 x 14 = 3,500.  3,500/1000 = 3.5 units.

So those three large glasses of wine that you drank last night added up to a whopping 10.5 units, or half of your weekly allowance!  It's easy to see why so many people are probably drinking way more than they think they are and could be putting their health at risk.