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Alcohol Content in Beer vs Wine: Explained (2023 Updated)

Last Updated on December 28, 2022 by Lydia Martin

The alcohol content is one of the key differences between beer and wine. Although both beverages contain alcohol, the amount contained in each varies widely.

This article will explore the varying levels of alcohol content in beer vs wine to help you make informed decisions when choosing your beverage.

Wine vs Beer: Which Has More Alcohol Content?

refilling glass of beer

Generally, wines have more alcohol content than beers.

The average alcohol content for wines ranges between 11 percent to 13 percent, while standard beers have an average of 5% ABV.

Different types of wine can have 5% ABV to 23% ABV. 

Wines produced in cooler regions like New Zealand and Germany have lower alcohol content, while those produced in warmer areas have higher alcohol.

Beers also vary in alcohol content. Some beers can be as low as 0.5% ABV to a whopping 13% ABV.

Let’s Take A Closer Look

refilling glass of wine

Wine Alcohol Content

Red

Red wines have an average alcohol content between 12%-15% by volume. It is mainly produced from varieties of dark-colored grapes. [1]

The fermentation of red wines includes the skin and seed of the grapes, which contribute to their color and contains more tannins.

Tannins make it possible for red wines to contain more alcohol while still balancing the taste.

White

pouring wine on a glass

White wines have a 10 % average ABV, but they can range between 5% and 15% depending on the brand.

White wines are made from non-colored-pulp of grapes, or “white” grapes, and typically don’t include skin and seed. 

The white grapes used in fermenting these wines are often less ripe, containing less sugar resulting in lower alcohol content than dark grapes.

Fortified

Fortified wines have the highest alcohol content ranging between 17% to 22% ABV. 

Some Famous styles of fortified wines include port, sherry, Madeira, marsala, and vermouth.

“Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance.”

– Benjamin Franklin, One of the United States Founding Fathers

Because distilled spirits are added to make fortified wines, it has more alcohol content than traditional wines.

Beer Alcohol Content

Malt

malt on a strainer

Malt beers have the lowest alcohol content among different types of beers.

Some malt beverages are alcohol-free, but malt beers typically have 0.5% to 2.5% ABV.

Fermentation is usually halted to lower the alcohol content to create malt beers, and they usually taste sweet and nutty.

Lager 

Lagers usually contain alcohol between 4.5% to 13% ABV. Lagers are the type of beer produced from bottom-fermenting yeasts and are stored in cold temperatures.

Lagers are usually light, crisp, and highly carbonated. It is the most consumed type of beer worldwide.

Ales

Ales are the opposite of lagers, which are made with top-fermenting yeast that tends to flocculate on top during the brewing process.

Pale ales usually have lower alcohol (up to 5% ABV) than dark ales (up to 6.5% ABV).

Ales are more flavorful and fruity, with more profound bitterness from hops than lagers.

Stout & Porters

refilling a glass of beer

While both stouts and porter are dark beers, they are distinguished by the type of barley used and their alcohol content.

Typical porters use malt barley and usually have 4.8% to 6.5 %ABV, while stouts use roasted unmalted barley and an average ABV of 5.5% to 8%.

Bock

Bock beers are typically dark lagers that are fairly strong and have an average ABV between 6% and 7%. 

It was first brewed in Germany during the 14th century and is now very popular in the Netherlands.

Traditional bocks are usually bottom-fermented, with fewer hops and more robust malt flavors.

How To Determine Alcohol Content

The alcohol content is typically measured as a percentage of the total alcohol by volume (ABV). 

To calculate, divide the amount of ethanol present in milliliters (mL) by the total liquid volume in mL and then multiply the result by 100. 

For example, if a 750-mL bottle contains 30 mL of ethanol, its ABV would be 4% (30/750 x 100 = 4%).

This can also be determined by using an alcoholmeter or hydrometer, which measures the density of liquids compared to water, and by measuring the sugar content with a refractometer.

FAQ

How many beers equals a glass of wine?

12 ounces of beer (5% ABV) is equivalent to 5 ounces of wine (12%ABV).

Therefore, one would need to drink roughly two and a half cans of beer to equal one glass of wine in terms of alcoholic content.

What gets you drunker, beer or wine?

Wine would get you drunker because it has a higher concentration of alcohol.

It only takes 3-4 glasses of wine for a normal person to get drunk, while it takes four cans of beer. 

Why does wine make me feel different than beer?

You may feel different because wine has a higher concentration of alcohol than beer and has a wider range of flavors and aromas, which could give a different drinking experience.

Key Takeaways

Wines typically have higher concentrations of alcohol compared to beer. It is also because grapes naturally contain more sugars than the ingredients in beer.

A glass of wine has almost the same amount of alcohol as a can of beer.

Therefore, less volume of wine should be consumed than beer to get the same intoxicating effect.

A normal person would get drunk with four glasses of wine or four cans of beer, so always remember to drink responsibly. Cheers.

Reference:

  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/red-wine-good-or-bad

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