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Is There Such a Thing as a Standard Drink Size?


Interviewer: Let’s talk about the consumption rate of drinks again. There really isn’t one standard-sized drink. You can order big shots, small shots, double, and triple shots. Or, with mixed drinks, it’s anyone’s guess how much alcohol is used. If you tip the bartender well, they may give you a more generous pour. Even with beers, you can order long necks, short necks or 20 ounces and 40 ounces. It seems like there is no standard drink and you wouldn’t even know if you saw one if it was standard, double standard, triple or who knows.

Aaron: Absolutely. The method most people usually go by is what the Department of Motor Vehicles has come up with for their drink chart. Which, by the way, has changed. And now it takes much less according to the DMV for you to be at or over the legal limit than it did before.

I was actually looking at the drink chart, which came out in the last couple of years. California DMV’s drink chart was revised in around July of 2010. I’m actually looking at it right now. And it says that someone who, let’s use an example of 180 pounds would be a 0.10 if they had three drinks within an hour.

Now how do you look at that and say that it is completely accurate? It’s not. Obviously you have three drinks in an hour at almost any weight and you do not want to get behind the wheel, because it’s not worth rolling the dice. But you may not be fully absorbed at that point within the hour. If you had a lot of food in your stomach so it may take a lot longer for that to happen.

Beer, Wine and Mixed Drinks: Different Types of Alcohol Contain Different Alcohol Contents

According to DMV, one drink equals 1.5 ounces of 80 proof liquor, 12 ounces of 5 percent beer or 5 ounces of 12 percent wine. Now, how many wines are 12 percent? Well most white wines are in that area. Red wines, almost all of them these days are higher than 12 percent. We have pinots and zinfandels, which are 16, 17 percent or more. So four ounces of a, call it a 16 percent zinfandel, is going to be considered more than one drink. I was just at a restaurant the other day with my wife and they gave a generous a 12-ounce pour. And this wine was 14 to 15 percent at least, so what does that tell you?

Interviewer: That you had a happy wife?

Aaron: She and her friend were very happy with the pours and they were not the drivers that night. But we just sat and we laughed at the pour. You rarely see that any more, but some restaurants they want your business.

The other misleading thing that people have to watch out for is the size of the wineglasses. This is because now we’re seeing these large wine glasses that can hold 16, 18, and 20 ounces of wine. And if the glass is filled up halfway, that amount can be 8 to 10 ounces of wine, which is easy two potentially three drinks right there in your one drink. So that’s something that people have to be wary of.

By Aaron Bortel

Aaron Bortel

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