Here's a tip - focus on your tipple
While most people know that units are the way alcohol is measured, most don't know what a unit really is and would struggle to say how many are in their favourite drink. You can work it out with our unit calculator.
What is a unit?
A UK unit is 10ml of pure alcohol. On average, healthy adult bodies can break down 10ml of alcohol in an hour. The time it takes a person to process the alcohol in their system obviously varies from person to person depending on their body size.
The alcohol content in drinks is also expressed as a percentage of the whole drink. If you look at the label of a bottle of wine or a can of lager you will see either a percentage, followed by the abbreviation "ABV" which stands for Alcohol By Volume, or sometimes just the word "vol". So, a bottle of wine that says "12% ABV" on its label contains 12% pure alcohol.
The exact calculations
To work out the units in a drink, you need to know its volume in millilitres and its %ABV strength. To find the units, multiply the volume (in millilitres) by %ABV then divide the result by 1,000.
For example, if you're drinking a 250ml glass of wine which is 12% ABV (250 x 12 ÷ 1,000) = 3 units.
Figure out your favourites
Our taste for imported lagers and wines from countries such as Australia, South America and South Africa, means that we're having higher strength alcoholic drinks than ever before. For example, some imported lagers can be up to 5% or even 6% ABV. And stronger new world wines can be anywhere up to 15% ABV.
So it pays to be aware of how many units are in a drink to help you stick to the sensible drinking guidelines. To help, we've put together some useful tips and tools to help you understand units better.
Our winning rounds game lets you test your knowledge of units, and the Wine Guess Challenge will help you work out how many units are in your usual wine glass at home. And using our drinks diary over a week is another great way to work out how big a part alcohol plays in your lifestyle.
Remember that the sensible drinking guidelines are different for men and women. Find out how they differ, and how drinking responsibly can benefit your overall health and wellbeing.