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What is a Unit of Alcohol?

What is a Unit of Alcohol?

A unit is no longer 'equivalent to a small glass of wine'. A typical glass of wine (175ml) contains between 2 and 3 units. A small glass of wine is at least 1.5 units - normally 1.6 to 1.8 units.

Government sensible drinking website 2008.

One unit of alcohol is equivalent to 10ml of pure alcohol. As a rough guide:

  • 1 pint of strong lager = 3 units
  • 1 pint of ordinary lager, bitter or cider, 175ml glass of wine = 2 units
  • 1 alco-pop = 1.5 units
  • 1 measure of spirits 25mls = 1 unit
  • many wines are around 11 or 12 per cent alcohol, so a small glass (125mls) = 1.5 units

In fact, even this advice is slightly out of date. Checking the wine rack in a local off-license with numerous bottles of wine on its shelves, the average ABV was 13.5% and the highest was 16.5%. So a small glass (125ml) would be nearly 2 units.

The old measurement fable was highlighted on BBC TV in recent times when the newsreader said that a small glass of wine was “one unit”. The BBC we’re inundated with complaints from ‘professionals' as being negligent. The BBC then did their own test half an hour later and part filled a small glass - it was in fact a standard 175 ml glass, so even the description 'a small glass' was deceptive - and divided the number of small glasses into a litre of the wine (13% ABV) and found that it was nearer 3 units per small glass.

How many alcoholics use a glass? How many drink lager or beers?

The hazard is that they will mislead themselves into thinking that they are consuming a reduced amount of alcohol than in fact they are. In fact, if they go out driving after 2 glasses of wine, they could easily be well over the limit.

At Trust the Process Counselling we make a recommendation to our future clients that a standard measure of wine (175ml) is about 2.5 to 3 units of alcohol.

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