How many units of alcohol and calories are in a glass of red wine?
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A glass of red wine might have more alcohol and calories in it than you would expect.
A typical-strength medium (175ml) glass of red wine has around 2.3 units of alcohol. So, over a week, drinking more than a bottle and a half of red wine in total would put you above the UK Chief Medical Officers' (CMO) low risk drinking guidelines, of drinking less than 14 units a week.
Keeping an eye on how much you drink, and staying within the low-risk guidelines, has clear benefits for your long-term health. It could lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of long-term health problems, including at least seven types of cancer, or liver or heart disease.
Cutting down on drinking can benefit your waistline too. Alcohol contains almost as many calories as pure fat (around seven calories a gram).
It’s easy to see how much alcohol is in any red wine - just look out for the Alcohol by Volume (ABV) which you’ll find on the label, or ask at the bar.
The ABV tells you what percentage of the red wine is alcohol. The higher the ABV, the more alcohol is in the drink and the stronger it is - for example, a 13% ABV red wine contains 13% pure alcohol.
The amount of alcohol in red wine can vary. But red wine’s typical strength means drinking two large glasses in one session could mean you’re consuming six and a half units of alcohol, so could be classed as ‘binge drinking’ (more than six units of alcohol for a woman, or eight for a man).1
Research shows that binge drinking (between 5-7 units) over a three-to-six hour period increases your short-term risk of accidents and injuries by two to five times.2
All alcohol - including red wine, whether it´s Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot or another type - is made from natural starch and sugar. There are 133 calories in a typical 175ml glass of red wine3 – slightly more than you would find in a bag of ready salted crisps. That means that, over time, drinking too much can lead to weight gain and start to affect your appearance.
What’s more, calories from alcohol are 'empty calories', meaning they have no nutritional value, so they don’t benefit our bodies in any way.
An easy way to cut your calorie intake from red wine is to choose a non-alcoholic alternative, a lower strength wine or, if you’re having more than one glass, alternating between red wine and water.
contains up to 133 calories
up to 190 calories
up to 570 calories
Different types of wine – whether red, white, rosé or sparkling (like prosecco or champagne) – can vary a lot. They are typically around 11-14% ABV, although some can be as high as 14.5% ABV. The only way to be sure is to check the label.
Choosing a lower strength drink as a replacement to a full-strength one can be a great way to cut out unnecessary alcohol and calories. And there are more ‘reduced alcohol’ wines available than ever before, in supermarkets and pubs. A ‘reduced alcohol’ red wine could be around 5.5% ABV (remember to check the label) – so would cut your alcohol consumption by more than half compared to a typical equivalent size glass of full-strength red wine.
Even better for reducing your alcohol intake would be a ‘low alcohol’ red wine. These aren’t allowed to be more than 1.2% ABV,4 and many are around 0.5% ABV.
If you’re thinking about cutting the amount of red wine you drink to improve your health or appearance, you can do it with Drinkaware. Great ways to start are:
If you always have a glass of red wine to celebrate a good day at work, or commiserate a bad one, try doing something else instead. An alcohol-free dinner out makes for a feel-good treat, while a gym session is a great way to relieve stress.
There’s always an excuse to have a drink, but it can all start to add up. Taking more drink-free days each week is an easy way to cut back and improve your health. Take our DrinkCompare Quiz to discover your drinking risk level, and create an action plan to reduce your drinking.
Lower volume (ABV) red wines are becoming much more popular, so try asking for a recommendation or do some research online to find one you like.
After you’ve enjoyed your glass of wine with dinner, you don’t have to drink the rest of it. You could save it, or use it to add flavour to your cooking.
Arming yourself with strategies and tips can help you or a loved one take small steps towards big results.
Last Reviewed: 23rd June 2022
Next Review due: 27th October 2024