Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

How Much Wine Does It Take To Get Drunk? (and when to stop!)

Lakeisha Ethans
Last Updated: April 18th, 2023

Wine goes down so well, sometimes you don’t even realize when you’ve had too much! It can be intoxicating, in both good and bad ways, but it’s hard to resist nowadays. Now, the next time you drink wine, ask yourself how much wine will it take to get drunk?

Your Wine And Its Alcohol Content

As many of us know, wine develops alcohol during the fermentation stage. It’s a complicated process that affects not just the alcohol by volume (ABV) levels but also the actual flavor and aroma of the wine. During fermentation, yeast converts the sugar in grapes into alcohol. The more sugar used, the more alcohol there will be.

Compared to other popular alcoholic drinks, wine is relatively low in ABV%. Beer is on the lower end of the scale, at 4% – 7% ABV, and wine is right after it, ranging 12% – 15% ABV. Liquors such as whiskey, gin, and vodka have much higher alcohol content.

The ABV is usually clearly marked but be aware that, with wine, the actual ABV you’re drinking could be higher. New studies found that, because grapes tend to be sweeter now due to farming trends and warmer climates, the alcohol content in wine is around 0.42% higher than what’s on the bottle.

With that, though one glass of wine won’t knock you out, it’s still really easy to reach legally drunk levels, especially if you’re not careful.

Drunk Off Of A Few Glasses Of Wine

How Much Wine To Get Drunk

Before knowing how much wine to get drunk, first, you need to know how the experts have measured things.

Wine is based on a 5-fluid-ounce serving size, which is around half of a wine glass. One standard bottle can hold 750 ml of wine, which is equivalent to around 25 oz. With a single bottle, you can get around 4 – 6 glasses of wine out of it. If you’re out with friends or drinking alone, the alcohol content means you don’t need to drink a lot of wine to get drunk.

It’s common sense that finishing a whole bottle of wine will more or less get you drunk but it doesn’t take that much wine to reach legally drunk levels. To reach a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08, just a couple of glasses will do the trick.

The standard is that, within an hour, men need three glasses of an average ABV wine to get drunk, while women only need two. After reaching this limit, you’ll likely be legally drunk. By then, it’s safer and much better if you don’t drive.

Of course, a lot of things affect drunkenness! Have you ever been out with two friends who drank the same amount but one lost control way quicker than the other, even if they went at the exact same pace? Here’s why that might have happened.

What Affects Your Intoxication

1. Your Biological Sex And Body Build

It’s a classic example of nature over nurture. Females tend to be smaller than males, and have more fat. Fat is important because alcohol doesn’t mix well with it so when the body metabolizes the alcohol, higher fat content lessens the water-soluble spaces it can go to.

However, lean muscle can help, since muscles are rich in water. The alcohol can then be diluted in the water content of your muscles. It’s the same with height, with more space for the alcohol to dilute itself.

Basically, this means that both sex and body build are important factors in getting drunk— or avoiding it!

2. Your Ethnicity

Ever wonder why some of your Asian friends turn red when they drink? Blame acetaldehyde dehydrogenase! This is a gene that induces the Asian flush and accelerates heart rate upon alcohol consumption, even if it wasn’t a lot, to begin with.

It’s seen that people of Asian and Native American ethnicities tend to metabolize alcohol slower, meaning that the alcohol stays in their bodies longer, and basically lowers their tolerance.

A lot is passed on from our ancestors that affect our day-to-day lives, more than just drinking.

3. Your Empty Stomach

While the past two factors are things that you have almost no say in, this is something you can definitely control.

Your food consumption is a huge factor in getting drunk. Drinking on an empty stomach lessens the water content in your body. This leads to a higher alcohol concentration for your body to process. Not eating or drinking anything is a surefire way to get drunk faster.

On the other hand, nutritious fat and proteins could enhance your alcohol tolerance, since these help delay alcohol absorption and it protects your body from some harmful effects of alcohol.

4. Your Health

Your health also has a great effect on your tolerance. Since alcohol basically registers as poison to our bodies, when your body has been busy fighting off a cold, it won’t be able to quickly process the alcohol.

Even lacking sleep could affect your tolerance. Sleep deprivation, on its own, already affects your impairment, what more if you add alcohol to the mix?

Moreover, medication is dangerous when you’re drinking. Never drink alcohol while you’re on your meds, or at least know how your meds would react to whatever you’re drinking by consulting your doctor.

5. Your Drinking Experience

If we started off with nature and biology, nurture and experience will end this section. Drinking alcohol often increases your tolerance, regardless of genes.

It’s like learning how to ride a bike. At first, it’s difficult but it’ll get easier with more exposure. Your body gets used to alcohol and will process it quicker.

However, there’s a very obvious danger of alcohol abuse. Intense alcohol tolerance could come at the cost of alcoholism and health risks. Even if wine is proven to have loads of health benefits, that’s only for moderate drinking.

How to Drink More Without Getting Drunk

1. Remember To Eat And Hydrate

Make sure to eat food high in protein and fat to increase your tolerance. It’ll line your stomach and absorb a lot of the alcohol you’ll consume. In the same sense, drinking a lot of water will help dilute the alcohol in the wine. Hydrating before you drink your wine and sipping on water before your next glass of wine will help you stay sober longer.

2. Try To Pace Yourself

Rather than finishing your glass quickly, try sipping it instead. If you don’t want to sip it, you could also limit yourself to just one glass. You could also drink one glass per hour and instead make sure to drink water before your next wine serving. However, we can’t promise this won’t get you legally drunk, just that it’s one way to help you stay sober longer.

3. Step Out For Some Fresh Air

Surprisingly, stepping out for some fresh air actually does help! When we drink alcohol, our bodies warm up and we start sweating out the liquids in our bodies. This makes every sip of wine more concentrated in our stomachs.

Additionally, a room full of people warms up, especially when everyone’s drinking. This means you’ll be sweating from both the alcohol and from the people you’re with.

An easy solution is to step outside and cool down. The fresh air will really help sober you up by lowering your body temperatures. It’s not just the mind— it’s science!

4. Always Drink Wisely

Another tip is to drink wisely by consciously sticking to wines with lower alcohol content.

Choosing a lower-ABV wine is a simple way to help you stay sober longer. When the buzz hits, just go drink water. The wine taste isn’t based on how much alcohol there is, meaning that you can still have an amazing drink of wine without having to risk getting drunk.

How Much Wine Does It Take To Get Drunk – In Summary

Many things are behind why you get drunk off wine and, while tolerance differs from person to person, it’s better to be safe than sorry. It’s important to drink responsibly especially if you’re driving home.

Men only need to drink three glasses to get legally drunk while women only need two. Even if you have a breathalyzer with you and you leave the house knowing you’re below 0.08 BAC, you could still pass this limit while you’re on the road.

About The Author

Lakeisha Ethans

Born in the UK, grew up in Africa, and now live in India with my kids! I have over 15 years of experience as a writer, editor, author, and blogger. In my free time I enjoy Yoga, gardening, and gaming with my kids.

Just so you know, if you click on a product on and decide to buy it, we may earn a small commission.

Leave a Comment