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Wine is one of those drinks that can sometimes weave itself through every evening.
A glass when you get home, one while you’re cooking, another during dinner, one after you put the kids to bed and the final glass that puts you to sleep.
For some, it’s not hard to get into the habit of drinking a bottle a day.
In this post, we’ll help you learn whether your wine drinking is normal. And if it’s not, we’ll lay out the steps you can take to cut back (including effective, science-backed methods for moderation).
To Wine or Not to Wine
A recent, widely-read article in The Lancet has said there is no safe level of alcohol. Now the highly regarded publication The Wine Spectator has weighed in on the issue. As may be expected, they had a different conclusion (the magazine has an interest in encouraging alcohol consumption).
The amount The Wine Spectator endorses is moderate. It is fair to say that most of its readers are likely to drink wine in limited quantities. Plus, the worldwide data may not take into account a country’s local customs. As Howard Sesso, professor at Brigham and Women’s University, notes, “The reasons for people drinking in the United States might be very different from the reasons why people drink in Japan, or in any other country for that matter.”
Wine is here to stay. Given that the oldest known winery was built in 4100 BC—over 6,000 years ago—the beverage is not likely to disappear. Nor are its consumers. In 2016, according to the Wine Institute, almost 3 gallons were drunk for every person in the United States.
For an individual, one question may be, “How much does my wine consumption affect either my quality of life, or the length of it?” Each person has to decide how to weigh the cost. We’ll guide you on how to do that in the next section.
Am I Drinking Too Much Wine?
To decide if you’re drinking too much, you should first know how many glasses are in a bottle of wine. This depends on the size of the bottle and how much you pour. A standard wine bottle is 750 milliliters, or about 25 fluid ounces. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines a glass of wine as 5 ounces. With that math, there are about 5 glasses in a standard bottle of wine.
If you purchase a magnum containing 1.5 liters, it’s the equivalent to two standard bottles of wine. That means it can serve double the amount, pouring about 10 glasses per bottle.
Before jumping into what experts say about your drinking habits, it may be helpful to press pause on your self-judgment. Instead of labeling yourself as an “alcoholic,” try to see drinking as a spectrum. Some people never drink, while others consume large quantities each day. Falling on the heavier end of the spectrum doesn’t mean you’re a bad person or that you need to give up your passion for wine. It simply means that your habits aren’t considered healthy, and you may take steps to gain back your normal relationship with alcohol.
Learn more about moderation management and how you can learn to drink less, without stopping for good.
A Bottle of Wine a Day: Am I an Alcoholic?
You may wonder if drinking a bottle of wine a day is bad for you. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that those who drink do so in moderation. They define moderation as one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Also, consider that a standard glass of wine is 5 ounces, and many people pour more. Given that information, if you drink a bottle of wine per day, you’re already well above this recommendation.
Drinking a bottle of wine a day can hurt your physical and mental health in the short and long term. A typical bottle of wine contains up to 650 calories and that number rises for sweet varieties. There’s also about 6 grams of sugar in every bottle or 1.2 grams per glass. Besides giving your body empty calories, alcohol heightens your risk for numerous health issues, including cancer. It can also affect the brain, making depression more severe and increasing stress hormone levels.
A Bottle a Day and Liver Disease
Drinking a bottle of wine a day can also eventually cause liver damage. How quickly? That depends on your overall health. According to one article, severe alcoholic liver disease is often linked to drinking 20-40 grams of ethanol a day for women, or 40 to 80 grams for men, over 10 to 12 years. A bottle of wine generally has enough ethanol in it to meet, or exceed this level.
So, while you may not see the impact immediately, it’s important to be aware of what effect wine is having on your liver. If you’re concerned, it’s always possible to get an liver enzyme test from your doctor to see where you stand.
“Before your program I was a daily drinker. Mostly wine but mostly the entire bottle in one sitting. Since taking your counseling and the miracle drug naltrexone, I am finally rid of the temptation to drink.”
– Maria in Florida, Ria Member
Although drinking a bottle of wine a day isn’t healthy, it may seem normal. If you have friends who drink the same amount and you frequently see memes on social media about having a bottle to yourself, you may not think it’s that serious. However, it’s possible for the habit to be normal in your circle but abnormal from a health standpoint. Does that make you and many of your friends alcoholics?
First, it’s important to understand that the word “alcoholic” isn’t a clinical diagnosis. When a professional evaluates whether you have a drinking problem, they are assessing whether you have alcohol use disorder (AUD). The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5)—a handbook for diagnosing mental disorders—breaks up AUD into three sub-classifications:
To learn whether you fall into any of these categories, your healthcare professional will ask you a set of 11 questions outlined in the DSM–5. None of these questions ask how many drinks you have per day. Instead, they’re focused around any thoughts, cravings, reactions, or consequences you may experience related to alcohol. Here are some example questions:
- In the past year, have you had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer, than you intended?
- In the past year, have you given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, or gave up pleasure, in order to drink?
- In the past year, have you had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want? Or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before?
- In the past year, have you continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family and friends?
After going through all of the questions with a healthcare professional, they’ll count your score to figure out which subcategory (if any) you fall into.
- Mild= Answering yes to 2-3 symptoms
- Moderate= Answering yes to 4-5 symptoms
- Severe= Answering yes to 6 or more symptoms
Note: While you can take questionnaires yourself, you need to see a healthcare professional to be officially diagnosed.
Without even taking the quiz, if you drink a bottle of wine a day we can probably assume a couple of things. Firstly, you probably didn’t start out drinking a bottle per day. You likely started to drink more to achieve the same effect you once had with fewer glasses. Secondly, there have probably been a few times in the past year when you’ve spent time getting over the after-effects of 5+ glasses. If that rings true for you, you’ve answered yes to two symptoms, and may have AUD.
2-3 Bottles of Wine a Day: Am I an Alcoholic?
If you drink a magnum bottle of wine a day, that’s the equivalent of drinking two bottles. You may also consume more.
As we discussed in the section above, drinking more than one glass a day for women and two glasses a day for men is enough to start questioning your habits. Drinking one bottle a day is a sign that you should take steps to cut back. Drinking additional bottles further increases your risk of health problems, and may suggest severe AUD.
Looking at your consumption may feel awkward. However, many people in your situation have significantly reduced their drinking over time. Realizing you have a problem with drinking won’t solve the issue overnight, but it allows you to take the first step in normalizing your habits.
I Drink a Bottle of Wine a Day… Now What?
If you are drinking a bottle of wine every day, you might want to take a look at your drinking habits. Getting help doesn’t have to mean giving up your passion for good wine. It doesn’t even have to mean leaving your home.
Ria Health combines counseling with research-backed anti-craving medication. Our judgment-free program leaves the decision up to you: Do you want to cut back or quit completely?
Either way, our process is straightforward:
- Sign up
- Meet with doctors and coaches via video chat
- Get access to anti-craving medication
- Monitor your progress using scientific, digital tools
- Meet with health teams to refine treatment plans, and receive support in online group meetings
Wondering if the program is right for you? Take our 11-question test
Summary of Drinking a Bottle of Wine a Day
If you have a bottle of wine a day, you’re drinking 2.5 to 5 times the recommended amount, depending on whether you’re male or female. This can have social, physical and mental health consequences. You may consider looking at your drinking habits. If you’re having trouble cutting back, you’re not alone. You can seek treatment without needing to quit completely.
Our members reduce their drinking by an average of 75% in the first year. We’re here if you need us.