Updated on: 08 Dec 2021

How Many Glasses Of Wine Will Make You Drunk?

The truth is there's no "one fits all" answer but certain things can play a big part in alcohol tolerance. Let's find out what's involved.

How Many Glasses Of Wine Will Make You Drunk?

Wine is one of the most popular drinks in the world. It’s become a staple of modern society, enjoyed by millions worldwide.

While alcohol should always be enjoyed in moderation and should never be consumed solely for the purpose of getting drunk, a popular question is always "how many glasses of wine will make you drunk?".

This is undoubtedly a complex matter that has no empirical answer. It depends on various factors, so let’s dig deeper into the matter.

How Much Alcohol Is In Wine?

Before wondering how many glasses of wine will make you drunk, perhaps you should wonder how much alcohol is in the wine you want to drink.

The answers here vary widely. Wine can be as light as beer or nearly as strong as a spirit or hard liquor.

The Italian Moscato d’Asti, for instance, has an alcohol concentration of only 5.5%. Beer is often stronger than this, so you’ll probably be able to drink several glasses before getting drunk.

At the other end of the line, a fortified or aromatized wine - think Port or Vermouth - can have an alcohol concentration of over 20%. If you’re not an avid drinker, a glass could easily get you drunk.

On average, wines have an alcohol concentration between 11 and 13%; how much wine you have to ingest to get drunk largely depends on the actual level of alcohol in wine, but it's not the sole factor at play.

drinking wine

How Many Drinks Are In A Glass Of Wine?

Now that you know how much alcohol there is in wine, you should be concerned about how much wine you drink at a sitting.

Chances are you’re not going to drink a whole bottle, so the next question to ask yourself is how many drinks there are in a glass.

To make things easier for us, the Health dietary guidelines tell us exactly how many drinks there are in a standard glass of alcoholic beverage.

According to them, 12 fluid ounces of a beverage with an alcohol concentration of 5% is the equivalent of a drink.

A glass of wine typically holds 125 milliliters, which is the equivalent of roughly 4 fluid ounces. This means you can have three glasses for one full drink.

Group of people enjoying wine

Things change as the alcoholic concentration increases. A drink of standard 12% wine consists of 5 fluid ounces, which means one glass is more or less the equivalent.

Obviously, to determine how many drinks there are in your glass, you must know both the alcoholic concentration of the wine and how much wine there is in the glass.

Without getting into types of wine glasses and how much liquid each of them is supposed to hold, studies show the average consumer pours more or less 250ml of wine in a serving.

Translated into ounces, this means around 8.5 oz. In other words, if you’re drinking a wine with an average alcoholic content, it means there are about two drinks in your glass.

The highest alcohol intake recommended by physicians is of about two drinks a day for women and up to three drinks a day for men, but how many glasses of wine will actually make you drunk goes beyond this consideration.


Important Note: Drinking large amounts of alcohol is incredibly dangerous to your health. Alcohol is also incredibly addictive and has ruined many a life.

Man holding wine glass

Alcohol Tolerance Explained

Now that you know how many drinks you should have daily and how to calculate how many drinks are in a glass of wine, you must also throw into the game your alcohol tolerance.

Alcohol tolerance refers to how much alcohol you can intake before you observe the adverse effects it has on your body.

Each individual has a different alcohol tolerance, which varies based on the biochemistry of your body, your age, weight, metabolism rate, and even race and gender.

That’s quite a lot to account for, but unless knowing all these factors, it is hard to tell how many glasses of wine will make you drunk.

Alcohol tolerance also increases due to constant exposure to alcohol. In other words, if this is the first time you’re drinking, your alcohol tolerance is probably low, and one or two drinks consumed over the course of an hour (roughly one-one and a half glasses of wine) will make you drunk.

If you’re drinking wine each day, your alcohol tolerance is undoubtedly higher, and you’ll probably be able to drink more wine before getting drunk.

blind wine tasting

Factors Affecting Alcohol Tolerance

According to this study, tolerance to alcohol is thought to depend on four key factors. Let's take a look at what's involved.

1. Functional Tolerance

As you drink more alcohol it leads to certain impairments on your ability to function normally.

Increased alcohol levels in your bloodstream lead to less inhibitions, poor judgement, and slower reaction times.

Should you continue drinking alcohol you can expect your vision to become impaired (blurry or even double vision), your speech to become slow and slurred, and your balance to become poor at best.

Those that drink alcohol on regular occasions can get used to these effects and manage them better than those that are less frequent or heavy drinkers.

Should these heavier drinkers then reduce their alcohol consumption over a period of time then their tolerance will be lost.

The changes in alcohol tolerance are caused by the desensitisation and resensitisation (increased and reduced tolerance) of the brain to alcohol.

friends doing a wine tasting

2.Environment-Dependent Tolerance

Always drinking alcohol within the same environment can produce what's called environment-dependent tolerance.

This is due to your brain pairing familiar memories or cues with the effects of alcohol.

This response from your brain can counter some impairments caused by alcohol.

However, this tolerance would only be effective in the environment that your brain links to the feeling of being drunk. Should you consume alcohol elsewhere, the tolerance is lost.


3. Learned Tolerance

Tolerance to alcohol can be formed if the same activity is repeatedly performed while intoxicated.

This is best displayed in bar games like pool and darts where some players don't appear to experience impairment caused by alcohol.

A study using rats showed that they performed better while intoxicated when navigating a maze.

This learned tolerance is similar in a way to the environment-dependent tolerance. But, instead of your brain linking a place to the effects of alcohol it links an action or activity.

friends drinking around a table

4. Metabolic Tolerance

As well as being dangerous, regular alcohol consumption leads to the liver being more efficient at processing and removing alcohol from the body. 

Reduced alcohol levels in the bloodstream mean you will feel less impaired. However, it's really important to note that "A large proportion of heavy drinkers develop serious alcoholic liver disease" (source).


The One the Study Doesn't Mention

There's one factor that affects alcohol tolerance that I know you're dying to get me to mention.

It's drinking when on a full or empty stomach.

Yes, this has a big impact on the effect alcohol has on your body.

"If you drink alcohol with an empty stomach, the alcohol passes directly into your bloodstream. If you’ve eaten before drinking, the rate of alcohol absorption slows down but doesn’t stop." (Source).

So, yes it's true. Eating before drinking will help slow down the rate at which you might get drunk. But, it won't stop you getting drunk!


Important Note: Drinking large amounts of alcohol is incredibly dangerous to your health. Alcohol is also incredibly addictive and has ruined many a life.


How To Determine Alcohol Tolerance?

If you really want to know how many glasses of wine will make you drunk, the easiest way to tell is by direct experimentation.

Set yourself a protected environment, such as your home, and ask a friend to assist you in your quest.

Pour yourself a glass of wine (roughly two drinks), and consume it over the course of an hour.

Note down the moment when you start feeling the first drunkenness signs, such as dizziness and a feeling of euphoria.

If the first two drinks didn’t produce any effect, pour yourself another glass of wine and continue the experiment.

Stop when you start feeling drunk and assess how many glasses of wine you’ve had.

That’s it! You’ve got the answer because this is how many glasses of wine will make you drunk.

friends drinking wine together

Why Is It Important?

Knowing how many glasses of wine will make you drunk goes beyond curiosity.

Perhaps you’re invited to your partner’s house for the first time and what to leave a good impression. And you already know nobody will be impressed by seeing drunk you.

Perhaps you have a new job, and your boss has invited you to the first company night out. Drinking too much, even if the event is informal, will definitely put you in a bad light.

Ultimately, perhaps you want to get really drunk one night and wonder if a bottle of wine is enough for the purpose.

Regardless of the reason, knowing how many glasses of wine will make you drunk can help you know when to stop or how much more you have to drink to reach the desired level of dizziness.

It's important to know your limits and always remember that alcohol is dangerous and should always be consumed responsibly.

You should also always be wary of the long-term effects of above recommended alcohol consumption.

You can see the recommended limits for alcohol consumption in the USA here.


Final Thoughts

People have a host of reasons to wonder how many glasses of wine will make you drunk.

Perhaps you’re concerned about the effects of alcohol on the human body and want to prevent damage or maybe you just want to know how tolerant you are out of curiosity.

It's important to know your limits and most of us find out through trial and error (lots of messy errors!). 

If possible, try and take a note of your alcohol consumption each time. A little note on your phone of what you're drinking and how long it took to finish is a good start. Then add the effects you're feeling when they begin. 


Important Note: Drinking large amounts of alcohol is incredibly dangerous to your health. Alcohol is also incredibly addictive and has ruined many a life.


About the Author Tim Edison

Although not having any formal training in wine, Tim has developed an irrefutable love of wine and interest in anything related to it ever since he was a little kid. Coming from a family of wine lovers, it was from a young age that he got exposed to wine and the culture that goes with it and has been addicted ever since. Having traveled to dozens of wine regions across the world including those in France, Italy, California, Australia, and South Africa and tasted a large selection of their wines, it is with great joy that he hopes to share those experiences here and take you along on the journey.

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