Do you know what you’re drinking? – Alcohol and Units

I think many of us have no idea what we are drinking, because the system the UK uses for measuring alcohol in beverages is slightly complicated, so I’ve put together a helpful and easy to use guide so you can drink safely & responsibly!

The alcohol content of drinks is measured in units, with one UK unit containing eight grams of pure alcohol. Now, you can’t just count each drink as one unit of alcohol unfortunately, as the number of units depends on the different strength and size of each drink, so it can vary a lot.

Know Your Units – How do I calculate what I’m drinking?

There’s a whole load of alcoholic beverages on offer; wine, fortified liquers, beer, lager, spirits, ready to drink bottles, stout etc and each drink has a different alcohol content, you can see from the examples below just how the unit content of alcholic drinks actually differ…

Small Glass of Wine – 175ml – 12% abv = 2.1 Units

Spirits – 35ml – 40% = 1.4 units

Pint of Standard Beer or Cider – 568ml – 4.1%abv = 2.3 Units

Bottle of Beer or RTD – 275ml – 5% abv = 1.4 Units

To figure out how many units your alcoholic beverage is worth, there’s a simple formula:

Unit = [Volume (ml) x abv]/1000

Small Glass of Wine – 175ml – 12% abv = 2.1 Units

175ml x 12/1000 = 2.1 Units

Can you guess how many units each of the drinks below contains?  Scroll down for the answers.

What do you think the units for each glass are?

What do you think the units for each glass are?


They all contain one unit of alcohol. It's surprising, don't you think?



So, what’s healthy?

The UK Government advises that men should not regularly drink more than 3 to 4 units per day and women should not take in more than 2 to 3 units each day. Continuously drinking four or more units for men, and three or more for women can lead to progressive health issues, so it is best to stick to the recommended levels!

Drinking and Driving…

The legal drink-drive limit is 80mg per 100 millilitres of blood, but this cannot easily be translated into alcohol units as this measurement can be affected by age, weight, sex and whether food has been eaten, plus a host of other factors. It is therefore (to be safe) best not to drink and drive!

A little interesting fact: Your body breaks down alcohol at a rate of about one unit per hour – and nope, there’s no way you can speed this up!


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One Response to “Do you know what you’re drinking? – Alcohol and Units”

  1. Bookmarks about Alcohol Says:

    […] – bookmarked by 6 members originally found by originalmadomen on 2008-11-30 Do you know what you’re drinking? – Alcohol and Units – […]

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