Drinkaware is an independent charity working to reduce alcohol misuse and harm in the UK. We're here to help people make better choices about drinking.
The UK Chief Medical Officers’ (CMO) low risk drinking guidelines for men and women state that to minimise health risks from alcohol, it is safest to drink no more than 14 units a week on a regular basis.
So how does that relate to red wine?
You might be surprised to know that a medium 175ml glass of red wine containing 13% Alcohol by Volume (ABV) equates to 2.3 units of alcohol. This means drinking more than six glasses of wine of that strength in a week would put you above the guidelines.
A large 250ml glass of 13% wine, contains 3.2 units, which means drinking more than four glasses in a week would put you above the guidelines.
A 750 ml bottle of red wine containing 13% ABV, equates to 9.8 units of alcohol. This means that by drinking a bottle of red wine - or 3 large glasses - you would be consuming more than two thirds of the recommended weekly alcohol limit.
Don’t save up your units
It can be tempting to ‘save up' your weekly units and have them all on one or two days, however, this can have negative consequences for your health. The CMOs' advise:
If you regularly drink as much as 14 units per week, it is best to spread your drinking evenly over 3 or more days. If you have one or two heavy drinking episodes a week, you increase your risks of death from long-term illness and from accidents and injuries.
It’s important to remember that the strength of wine varies depending on the type you choose, such as Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon.
Always check the label on the bottle for the wine’s ABV percentage, which tells you how much pure alcohol it contains. The higher the ABV the higher the number of units.
If you’re ordering wine at a bar or restaurant, check the wine list or ask to see the bottle to be sure how strong it is.
Lower ABV red wines are becoming much more fashionable, so try asking for a recommendation or do some research online to find one you like
A standard medium 175ml glass of 13% ABV red wine contains as many as 160 calories; that’s the equivalent of a slice of Madeira cake. And to burn off those calories you’d need to do approximately 16 minutes of running.
A large, 250ml glass of 13% red wine can contain as many as 228 calories, that’s more than a jam doughnut. So you’d need to run for around 23 minutes to burn it off.
In addition to calories, you may have heard that red wine is high in antioxidants, which are good for your health, right? The press loves a story about the health benefits of red wine but there are lots of myths surrounding this topic, often relating to heart health. Remember, like any form of alcohol, drinking too much red wine too often can negatively impact your health, so listen to the experts and not just the headlines.
- You don’t have to finish the bottle: After you’ve enjoyed your glass of red wine with dinner you don’t have to drink the rest of it. Save the bottle for another day, or use that leftover wine to add some depth of flavour to your recipes. Try freezing it in a freezer bag or ice cube tray and it’ll keep until you want to use it in your cooking.
- Watch your measures at home: It’s easy to pour a larger glass of wine at home than you’d normally order when out. Invest in a measure so you can be sure how much you’re actually drinking.
- Find out your triggers: If you usually have a drink to escape from the stress of work, try to find other ways to unwind that don't involve alcohol, like going for a walk, or to the gym.
- Keep track of your drinking: Use our Track and Calculate Units App as an easy way to keep track of the units and calories you’re consuming.