Have you ever felt tipsy after a single glass of wine and wondered why? It’s unlikely your tolerance for alcohol suddenly plummeted and more likely that you were drinking a stronger wine than usual. That’s right; just like some beers are stronger than others, some wines are stronger than others too. Find your wine’s alcohol content.
How much alcohol is in my wine?
On average a wine’s alcohol content is 5%-20%. As you can see, drinking one glass of one type of wine might be like drinking four of another!
European Union regulates wine alcohol content.
One thing that’s interesting and helpful to know is that the European Union requires wines to have certain minimum alcohol content depending on region and wine type. For example, Riesling from France must have at least 8.5% alcohol content whereas Riesling from Germany must have a minimum of 6% alcohol content.
Sweet & light wines have the lowest alcohol content.
Wines that are in the 5-10% range are usually light-bodied and sweet in taste. Wines in the 5-6% range are often fruit-infused wines.
Gallo Family Vineyards “Spritz” Pineapple & Passionfruit Pinot Grigio: 5.5% ABV
This is a good example of a wine with a really low ABV. Just as it sounds, this California white wine has been “spritzed” with natural pineapple and passionfruit flavors.
Table wines, Rosé, Sauvignon Blanc, and Rieslings often fall between 8-10%. However, this is not always true, so you still need to look at the labels to know the actual alcohol content of a specific brand of wine.
Jacob’s Creek Moscato Rose: 8% ABV
Jacob’s Creek Moscato is an Australian rosé wine with a soft, berry flavor. Light and refreshing, this wine still has an alcohol content you can “feel”.
A standard wine’s alcohol content is 11-14% ABV.
The majority of wines will fall in this category. This includes Chianti, Shiraz, Rosé, Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Champagne and Sauvignon Blanc. Remember, this doesn’t mean every bottle of these types of wines will be in this range, but most will.
Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc: 13% ABV
Like many Sauvignon Blancs, Geyser Peak falls into the standard 11-14% alcohol content. This is a very dry wine from California.
Grab these wines for a slightly higher alcohol content.
For a bit on the higher end of the spectrum without going straight to the top, choose a medium-high alcohol wine. These are wines between 13.5-15.5% ABV. Seeing as that’s only 1.5% difference from the standard category, there will be a lot of wines that can go either/or depending on the brand. This includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Shiraz. Other wines that you’ll find in this mid-high alcohol content range are Malbec, Chardonnay, Merlot, and Zinfandel.
Cypress Merlot 2015: 13.9% ABV
From the Central Coast of California, Cypress Merlot has aromas of black currant and ripe plum.
Anything more than 15% ABV is a high alcohol content wine.
Wines that typically have the highest alcohol content include: Marsala, Sherry, and Vermouth. Yes; vermouth is wine! Some Zinfandels will fall in the 15-16% range, but not all that often.
Imbue Petal & Thorn Apéritif Wine: 17% ABV
Straight from Oregon, the idea behind petal & thorn vermouth is that it would be “both beauty and beast” mixing the soft with the robust.
Control your pour when enjoying high alcohol content wine.
A standard pour size for wine is 5 ounces, or the halfway line of a standard red wine glass. If you want to casually sip wine throughout the evening without getting too tipsy or even drunk, the best way to pace yourself is by managing your pour sizes. If you are drinking a strong red, a “glass” of wine is really about 1/3 of the glass or a thumb below the halfway line. This will help you keep track of how much you are actually drinking.
Ask the ABV before you order.
Many menus list the ABV – or alcohol by volume – which is really helpful when you want to order a wine to match your desired alcohol level. If it’s not listed, just ask the bartender or waiter to find out a wine’s alcohol content from the bottle label.