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Drinking Wine in Moderation

In understanding the relationship between wine consumption and health, it is important to realize the definition of “moderate drinking.” In the United States, a standard drink (or unit) is defined as containing 17.7 ml of ethanol which is about 14 grams of pure alcohol equivalent to 12 ounces of about 5% beer, 5 ounces of about 12% alcohol table wine, and a shot of 80-proof about 40% alcohol distilled spirits.

A full bottle of wine (750 ml) contains 5 to 7 drinks depending on the alcohol percentage or ABV. To determine the number of standard drinks in a bottle of wine, multiple 750 ml by the alcohol percentage and divide by 17.7.A bottle of 16% alcohol wine will have about 1 more drink than a bottle of 13% alcohol wine, the point being that alcohol percentage (ABV) does make a difference when you are looking to drink in moderation. One would want to scale back the volume of drinking when imbibing a wine with a higher alcohol percentage.

Many wine drinkers do not understand the concept of a standard drink and this leads to a false sense of drinking within the confines of moderation. Understandably, this is challenging since wine tastes so damn good. It’s like restricting sex to moderation.

Here is what a standard drink or 5 ounces of wine looks like depending on the type and size of wine glass chosen:

A global view of the percentage of regular wine drinkers who are or are not moderating their alcohol intake shows that about one-third of USA wine drinkers are actively moderating their consumption:

Remember that any health benefits to be derived from alcohol in moderation are only achievable through regular consumption preferably with meals. Drinking wine with a meal increases cardioprotective benefits, aids digestion (the pH of wine is close to that of stomach acid), decreases food-borne pathogens and may help diabetics metabolize sugars and starches.

It is often advised that wine consumers consult their physician about their alcohol consumption habits. The caveat there is that in my experience most physicians are lacking in knowledge about the relationship of wine and health so keep wine consumption moderate to be safe and possibly beneficial.

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