On average, champagne alcohol percentage is usually around 12%. That means a few glasses of champagne or any sparkling wines can raise your blood alcohol levels. Simply looking at the alcohol by volume information is not enough to make intelligent decisions about alcoholic beverages.
When you know the typical champagne alcohol level, you can make better decisions about how much wine you drink. If you are concerned about suffering a bad hangover, the simplest solution is to simply avoiding drinking completely for the day.
The Alcohol Content of One Glass of Champagne
To answer this question, let’s make two simple assumptions. Assume your glass of bubbly has a 12% alcohol content. We’ll also assume that you are enjoying a standard five once glass (i.e. 147 ml or about 20% of a typical bottle). In this case, a glass of wine contains approximately 14 grams of alcohol.
Why Having One Glass of Champagne Is Rare
A single glass of wine, still or sparkling, is unlikely to cause a problem for your health. If you order a bottle of white wine at a restaurant or have one at home, you are unlikely only to have a single glass of champagne.
Why? There are a few reasons why you may be unlikely to have just one glass of champagne or just one champagne flute.
Reason 1: Most People Hate Flat Champagne
The answer is simple. Most people hate flat champagne. Therefore, you might feel the need to finish off the entire bottle of wine in one evening. In reality, a glass of flat champagne can still be enjoyable. If you don’t believe that statement, set aside half of the next bottle of Dom Pérignon or another festive beverage and see what it tastes like after some time.
Given the cost of a typical bottle of Champagne, wine connoisseurs and wine drinkers alike are unlikely to let the fizz disappear and eagerly look forward to drinking a flat beverage. In comparison, beer companies have an advantage here because they can serve a single glass of beer more easily.
Reason 2: The Bubbly Effect Makes The Wine Go Quick
The alcohol in champagne probably feels different to you because of the bubbles. If you are like most people, you find traditional champagne easy to drink. The bubbly sensation, caused by carbon dioxide in the wine, can lead to higher levels of alcohol consumption, like more than one wine glass. If you are only finishing off a bottle of French champagne a few times per year at home, there is probably not much to worry about, however.
The bubbly effect also applies to alcohol in beer. The critical difference with beer is that a beer bottle tends to be smaller than a standard wine bottle. In addition, most beer has much lower alcohol content (e.g. 4-6% in beer vs 9-16% in wine) than a wine bottle. Beyond champagne alcohol content, bubbles are a key reason why this classic French wine is so much fun to drink.
Reason 3: The Celebration Effect Discourages Moderation
In much of the English-speaking world, sparkling wines, including champagne and champagne alternatives, are considered celebration drinks. You might buy a champagne bottle when you accomplish a big goal like buying a house, getting a promotion or other special occasions. In that case, you are already in a good mood and might drink a lot even if you only have an average bottle.
If you are drinking at home (i.e., private consumption), this kind of occasional excess is less of a problem. However, if you are having alcoholic drinks at a restaurant or bar, transportation is a challenge due to the high level of blood-alcohol concentration you are likely to have! It is unwise to drink and drive. If you have your eye on that expensive bottle of Veuve Clicquot, take a taxi, Uber, or some other kind of transportation. In that case, your blood alcohol content is less of a concern.
To a lesser degree, the celebration effect might also apply to dessert wines like port. The sweetness of dessert wines may cause you to overlook how much you’re drinking. Consider using a smaller port wine glass instead of pouring a standard drink of 5 ounces for a dessert wine. Smaller glasses also help you minimize weight gain since dessert wines have a high sugar per liter level. If you are concerned about champagne alcohol percentage, carefully check the label before buying the wine.
What Is The Legal Limit For Champagne?
Before going further, let me state that you are not reading legal advice. If you have a specific question about the legal limit for alcohol consumption, consult a legal professional in your area.
It isn’t easy to provide a single answer to this question because laws vary worldwide, and each person has a different body type. Further, champagne alcohol percentage varies by bottle, production and wine regions. A bubbly beverage made in California, for example, might have different alcohol content compared to real Champagne.
That said, there are some observations we can make. Let’s start by looking at the legal limit in one of my favorite states: New York.
New York State Legal Limit For Alcohol
The New York state government points out an important statistic: “more than 40 percent of all highway deaths involve impaired driving.” Alcohol consumption can be a factor in such impaired driving and undermining your motor reaction time. There is still risk at play with the champagne alcohol level.
Here is the information as per the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles:
“In New York State, you can be arrested for any of these offenses: aggravated driving while intoxicated (Agg-DWI), driving while intoxicated (DWI), driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or more (.08 BAC), driving while ability impaired by a drug (DWAI-drug), driving while ability impaired by alcohol (DWAI), or driving under the combined influence of alcohol and drugs.
Blood alcohol content (BAC) is the percentage of alcohol in your blood and is normally determined by a chemical test of breath, blood, urine or saliva. A BAC of more than .05 percent is legal evidence that you are impaired, a BAC of .08 percent or higher is evidence of intoxication, and a BAC of .18 percent or more is evidence of aggravated driving while intoxicated.”
Assuming you are a 150-pound male, a single 5 oz glass of wine will typically increase your blood alcohol level by 0.02% BAC. In this body weight example, having one glass of champagne is unlikely to put that person over the legal limit. However, champagne alcohol level vary by bottle. If your particular bottle has a higher alcohol level, the result would be different… Once you get into technical details like debating the impact of wine on your short-term memory, you have probably had too much to drink (get a taxi home!)
You might dismiss the above example because you are not a 150-pound male. In that case, you might find it helpful to experiment with a blood alcohol content calculator. If you consume an entire bottle of champagne (i.e., five standard glasses) with 12% alcohol by volume, it could take more than six hours to reach zero blood alcohol level. However, if you are drinking a bottle with lower champagne alcohol content then you may be able to safely drink more.
Blood alcohol levels for women are different. According to Healthline, the average American woman weighs 170.6 pounds. If a woman at that weight consumed two glasses of wine at 12%, it would take approximately two hours to reach 0% blood alcohol level on average. That estimate is based on using a blood alcohol content calculator. As a result, alternatives to liquor like nonalcoholic beer and non-alcoholic champagne are becoming more popular as a healthier option.
If you have questions or concerns about your alcohol consumption, please speak to your doctor for advice.
What About Champagne Hangovers?
Like any other alcoholic beverage, Champagne alcohol content can lead to a hangover. This is more likely to happen when you have more than typical glass.
To minimize the chance of a champagne hangover, there are a few options developed by wine experts. First, you could switch to a bottle with a lower alcohol level, such as a 10.5%-11.5% alcohol champagne. Fortunately, the typical champagne alcohol level is on the low side for wines. Second, you could limit your drinking to the start of a meal. Timing matters because alcohol leaves your body over time.