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What's in a Unit?

This question is often asked when people are being asked to consider how much they are drinking. Often the answer is complicated and hard to understand but we’re going to break it down into plain English to help answer your question once and for all.

Basically, alcoholic drinks contain different amounts of alcohol. The amount of alcohol in any can or bottle is typically shown as the alcohol by volume (ABV) or as a measure of how many alcohol units there are in each drink.

This is important because knowing how many units there are in your drinks helps you to keep track of how much alcohol you are drinking so you can try to reduce the risks to your health.

You can calculate the amount of alcohol in any drink if you know the quantity of liquid and the percentage of alcohol it contains. The calculation is:

UNITS =
Volume (ml) x Alcohol % (abv)
1000

However, it’s pretty unlikely for the majority of people to remember a formula when they’re having a drink. So instead use the guide below to help give you an idea of how many units there are in some popular drinks.


Standard glass of wine (175ml)
11.5% ABV 2 UNITS

Large glass of wine (250ml)
12% ABV 3 UNITS

Bottle of wine (750ml)
12% ABV 9 UNITS

Pint of strong lager or beer
5.5% ABV 3 UNITS
Pint of normal strength lager or beer
3.5% ABV 2 UNITS
Can of normal strength lager (500ml)
4% ABV 2 UNITS

Spirits double (50ml)
40% ABV 2 UNITS

Alcopop bottle (275ml)
5% ABV 1.4 UNITS

Spirits single (25ml)
40% ABV 1 UNITS