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Does Wine Make You Drunk

Does Wine Make You Drunk?

Wine is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented grapes or other fruits. So does drinking wine make you drunk? The short answer is yes, wine can definitely make you drunk if you drink enough of it. Let’s break this down further.

Alcohol Content of Wine

All alcoholic beverages contain ethanol, which is the type of alcohol that causes intoxication. Wine’s ethanol content usually ranges from around 11% to 15% ABV (alcohol by volume). This is lower than a lot of other popular alcoholic drinks:

  • Beer: 4%–6% ABV
  • Wine coolers: Around 5% ABV
  • Wine: 11%–15% ABV
  • Champagne: 12%–14% ABV
  • Hard liquor/distilled spirits (vodka, rum, whiskey etc.): Usually 40%–50% ABV

So wine doesn’t have as much alcohol as hard liquor, but it generally contains more alcohol than beer or wine coolers. The exact alcohol percentage depends on the type of wine—red, white, rosé, sparkling etc.

BAC Levels from Drinking Wine

Drinking alcohol of any kind can raise your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Your BAC level determines how drunk you actually are. Here are some key points about BACs:

  • The legal BAC limit for driving in the U.S. is 0.08%. If your BAC is over 0.08%, you are legally drunk.
  • Many people start to feel impairment at around 0.03% BAC.
  • A BAC level of 0.25% causes severe intoxication in most people. 0.30% BAC can lead to unconsciousness.
  • BAC continues rising for 30–90 minutes after your last drink as alcohol gets absorbed into your bloodstream.

Drinking wine can definitely put your BAC over the legal driving limit if you consume enough. For example, a 160 lb man would hit 0.08% BAC after drinking 4 standard glasses of 14% ABV wine in 1 hour. So wine can absolutely make someone legally drunk depending on their size and how much they ingest.

Factors Affecting Intoxication

Your BAC level and level of impairment depend on additional factors besides just the type of alcohol:
✔️ Amount consumed: Chugging a whole bottle of wine will make you drunker than having one glass.
✔️ Pace of drinking: Gulping down glasses back-to-back elevates your BAC faster than slow sipping.
✔️ Body size: BAC rises faster for smaller people since there’s less water volume to dilute the alcohol.
✔️ Food: Drinking on an empty stomach allows faster alcohol absorption.
So wine can definitely cause drunkenness. But the level depends on your drinking pace, body size and other elements. Still, it only takes 2–3 typical glasses of wine for many people to reach the legal BAC limit for driving.

Short-Term Effects of Drinking Wine

In the short term, drinking wine causes classic signs of alcohol intoxication, including:

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  • Relaxation, euphoria
  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Impaired coordination, balance and reaction time
  • Slurred speech
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Poor judgment
  • Mood changes – some people get angry or emotional when drinking

At higher BAC levels, wine can also cause:

  • Vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Blackouts – memory lapses
  • Respiratory depression

So wine intoxication can range from mild impairment to dangerous health effects depending on the amount consumed and BAC level reached.


Drinking significant amounts of wine commonly leads to hangovers the next day. Hangovers cause symptoms like:

  • Throbbing headache
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Increased sensitivity to light and sound
  • Muscle aches

Hangovers are caused by alcohol’s dehydrating effects and toxic byproducts created when your body metabolizes ethanol. Red wine seems more likely to trigger hangovers due to containing compounds called congeners. But white wine can certainly cause hangovers too if you drink enough.

Long-Term Impact of Wine Consumption

Over the long run, excessive wine drinking can negatively impact your health and lead to alcohol use disorder (alcoholism):

  • Brain damage – Heavy drinking kills brain cells and can cause memory loss, poor balance and mental decline.
  • Liver disease – Alcoholic liver disease includes fatty liver, cirrhosis and liver failure.
  • Increased cancer risk – Alcohol consumption raises the risk of liver, breast and other cancers.
  • Alcoholism – Drinking heavily for a long time can lead to physical and psychological alcohol dependence.

However, moderate wine consumption may potentially have some health benefits like reducing heart disease risk. But excessive wine intake clearly causes major negative effects.

Tips to Drink Wine More Safely

If you want to drink wine without getting dangerously drunk, keep these tips in mind:

  • Drink slowly – don’t gulp or chug
  • Alternate alcoholic drinks with water or non-alcoholic beverages
  • Eat before and while drinking
  • Have no more than 1–2 drinks per day if you’re a woman and 2–3 drinks max per day if you’re a man
  • Always plan ahead for safe transportation – never drive after drinking

Using these precautions makes it much less likely you’ll suffer negative effects from wine consumption.

The Bottom Line

Wine clearly contains enough alcohol to cause intoxication and make you legally drunk if you drink excessively. Factors like your body weight, drinking pace and other elements also affect your blood alcohol level. Drinking too much wine can lead to accidents, injuries, hangovers and long-term health risks. But practicing moderation makes it possible to drink wine reasonably safely. So wine can certainly make you drunk, but being aware of your limits and following safety tips reduces the risks.

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