What is a unit?
A unit is the measure of the amount of alcohol in a drink. One UK unit is 10 ml or eight grams of pure alcohol. A typical pint of ale contains one or two units, whilst a glass of wine can contain anything from around one and a half to three units, depending on the size of the glass and the strength of the wine.
How to calculate units
You can calculate the number of units in your drink by multiplying the amount in millilitres (ml) by the strength (ABV) and dividing the result by 1000. For most of us a far easier way is to use a unit calculator.
Once you can work out alcohol units, it is easier to measure how much you are drinking and work out if you need to cut down. Keeping a drinks diary - keeping a note of what you drink, when, where and how much - is one way of doing this.
As a rough guide, one unit of alcohol is about equal to:
- half a pint of ordinary strength beer, lager, or cider (3-4% alcohol by volume), or
- a small pub measure (25 ml) of spirits (40% alcohol by volume), or
- a standard pub measure (50 ml) of fortified wine such as sherry or port (20% alcohol by volume)
There are one and a half units of alcohol in:
- a small glass (125 ml) of ordinary strength wine (12% alcohol by volume), or
- a standard pub measure (35 ml) of spirits (40% alcohol by volume)
Don’t forget though, there are many wines and beers that are stronger than the more traditional ordinary strengths.
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