What is ABV? Alcohol by volume ABV is the measure used to show the alcohol content in a drink. It is expressed as a percentage of the total volume. Different drinks vary in ABV but the higher the figure the more potent the drink. As a general rule of thumb beers are anywhere from three and a half to seven or eight percent but some can be higher. Wine is on average around twelve percent by volume and spirits normally go from just below forty percent.* In the UK any drink with an ABV above 1.2 % must legally contain the ABV on the label.
Why do we measure ABV?
It is believed the first comprehensive measurement of alcohol in drinks was carried out in the sixteenth century by the British state as a tax-raising measure. They calculated the proof of an alcoholic beverage by soaking gunpowder in the liquid and trying to light it. Proof is not the same thing as ABV and is calculated in a number of ways in different countries. Many countries now also indicate units of alcohol in a bottle or drink as a health measure.
*It is important to remember that the number of drinks you consume is just as important a factor when calculating your alcohol intake. Cocktails can vary immensely depending on the ingredients whether spirits or liqueurs and how much.
Type of Drink Alcohol By Volume
Beer 3.5 – 8 %
Wine 10 – 14 %
Fortified Wines 15 – 25 %
Liqueurs 15 % upwards
Spirits 35 % upwards