Official standards drinks and how much you drink

The drinking guidelines proposed here have been established based on the standard drink. If you want to follow the guidelines and drink reasonably, you should make sure you know what a standard drink is in every form (beer, wine, cider, spirits, fortified wines, malt-based beverages and pre-mixed drinks, e.g. coolers).

Pay close attention to how much is poured – by you or anyone serving you – and know the alcohol content of what you’re drinking. Studies show that many people, especially young people and women, underestimate the amount they drink because they do not know what constitutes a standard drink.

There has also been a recent trend among winemakers to increase the alcohol content of certain wines. Read all labels carefully and adjust your intake accordingly. And remember that most people who drink spirits tend to have drinks containing more than the standard amount.

Standard drinks and their alcohol content

There is the same amount of alcohol in one regular beer (340 ml/12 oz, 5% alcohol), one glass of wine (140 ml/5oz, 12% alcohol), one glass of fortified wine (85 ml/3oz, 20% alcohol) and one shot of spirits (45 ml/1.5 oz, 40% alcohol). Each of these is considered a standard drink.

With cider, malt-based beverages or pre-mixed drinks (e.g. coolers), which are usually but not always served in a 140 ml/5 oz glass, you have to check the bottle label for the alcohol content, which can be anywhere from 2.5% to 20%.

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