Units and calories in wine
Find out how many calories and units of alcohol there are in white, red, rosé and sparkling wine.
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A glass of wine might have more alcohol and calories in it than you would expect.
A typical-strength medium (175ml) glass of wine has around 2.3 units of alcohol. That means drinking more than six medium glasses of wine a week 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 wine 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 developing at least seven types of cancer, liver or heart disease.
Cutting down on drinking can benefit your waistline. Alcohol contains almost as many calories as pure fat (around seven calories a gram).
Read on to find out more about the amount of alcohol and calories in wine. And whether you drink red, white, rosé, prosecco or champagne, there are lots of tips on how to cut down the amount of alcohol you drink.
It’s easy to see how much alcohol is in any 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 wine is alcohol. The higher the ABV, the more alcohol is in the drink and the stronger it is - for example, a 13% ABV wine contains 13% pure alcohol.
The amount of alcohol in wine can vary. But wine’s typical strength means drinking more than three typical-strength medium (175ml) glasses in one session 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 the alcohol in wine, whether it’s red, white, rosé, or sparkling like prosecco or champagne - is made from natural starch and sugar. That means a large glass (250ml) has the same number of calories as an ice cream sundae.
What’s more, calories from alcohol are 'empty calories', meaning they have no nutritional value, they don’t benefit our bodies in any way. So, over time, drinking too much can lead to weight gain and start to affect your appearance.
An easy way to cut your calorie intake from wine is to choose a non-alcoholic alternative, a lower strength wine or, if you are having more than one glass, alternating between wine and water.
contains up to 160 calories
adds 228 calories to your dinner
can contain 680 calories
The alcoholic strength of all wines - 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.
Choosing lower strength 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’ wine could be around 5.5% ABV (remember to check the label) – so would cut your alcohol consumption in half compared to an equivalent size glass of full strength wine.
Even better for reducing your alcohol intake would be a ‘low alcohol’ wine. These aren’t allowed to be more than 1.2% ABV3, and many are around 0.5% ABV.
Licensed premises that sell wine by the glass have to offer it in 125ml and 175ml glasses too, as well as the larger 250ml glasses.4
And if you're drinking wine at home, a unit measuring cup can make sure you don't accidentally pour more than you mean to.
If you always have a glass of 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.
Learn more about your drinking and get tools, tips and advice.
If you choose to drink, recording exactly what you’ve drunk during the week will tell you whether you're keeping within the unit guidelines. Our free Drinkaware: Track and Calculate Units app is perfect for tracking your drinks when you’re out and about.
Arming yourself with strategies and tips can help you or a loved one take small steps towards big results.
Last Reviewed: 8th March 2023
Next Review due: 27th October 2024