Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why can men drink more wine than women according to the drinking guidelines?
Research has shown that men and women don’t metabolise alcohol the same way. If a woman and a man drink the same amount of alcohol, the woman’s Blood Alcohol Level (BAC level) will most probably be higher than the man’s. And this is due to several reasons, women tend to have:
- A lower body weight and size,
- An overall lower percentage of body water and higher percentage of body fat compared to men: this means the alcohol is more concentrated.
These reasons contribute to a slower elimination of alcohol from the body in women. It is therefore recommended for women to drink less than men.
2. What is the Blood Alcohol Concentration?
Better known as the BAC, the Blood Alcohol Concentration refers to the level of alcohol in a person’s blood. The more you drink, the higher your BAC will be. But your BAC level will also vary depending on your size, your gender, your age, and whether you have had something to eat recently. For more information, visit our dedicated page on drink and drive .
3. Can I drink wine while taking my medication?
You should avoid drinking any alcoholic beverages while taking medications or if you have certain diseases. We advise to ask your doctor when taking medication, and if your doctor advises not to drink alcohol, make sure to also ask him how long you should wait after your treatment is finished (so for example if you have been prescribed antibiotics, make sure to ask your doctor if you can drink a glass right at the end of your treatment or if it best to wait a little bit longer).
4. I am diabetic: can I drink wine?
The positive effects of a moderate consumption of wine and other alcoholic beverages are only relevant for individuals with type-2 diabetes.
Type-2 diabetes is now one of the most common non-communicable diseases in the world and a major cause of premature illness and death in most countries. To prevent diabetic complications and premature death, patients are recommended to adopt a healthy lifestyle.
Recent scientific studies have demonstrated that a light to moderate consumption of wine/alcoholic beverages will improve insulin sensitivity in insulin-resistant people.
In addition, large population studies suggest that light to moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages is associated with a lower diabetic risk than abstaining or heavy drinking, independently of the type of alcoholic beverage consumed.
This does not apply for certain individuals and/or in certain situations. If you have any questions, please ask your medical doctor. For more information about wine and diabetes, please visit the Wine Information Council website.
5. How can I calculate a drink unit ?
The alcohol content of alcoholic beverages varies from one beverage to the other. By legislation, the alcohol content by volume (% abv) must be indicated on the label. To calculate the number of drinking units, it is necessary to know the grams of alcohol contained in the alcoholic beverage and how to translate % abv into grams of alcohol. To translate volume (e.g. ml) to mass (e.g. grams) and vice versa, it is necessary to know the density. Alcohol density d=0.8 g/ml. Thus: a wine at 12.5 % vol contains 12.5ml of alcohol/100ml of wine x 0.8 g/ml = 10 g of alcohol/100 ml of wine. This is the equivalent of 1 drinking unit (= 10 g). (A drinking unit can vary from 8-14 g of alcohol depending on the country) This way it is easy to assess the number of units you are consuming. For example, 125 ml of wine (12.5% vol), will translate into 1.25 drinking units and 175 ml of wine (12.5% vol), will translate into 1.75 drinking units.
6. Is it safe to drink alcoholic beverages during my pregnancy?
The safest option is to not drink any alcoholic beverages during the pregnancy and while trying to get pregnant. When you drink an alcoholic beverage while pregnant, the alcohol travels through your blood and into the baby’s blood tissues and organs. This means that whenever you have a glass a wine, so does your baby. This can lead to foetal alcohol syndrome in case of excessive drinking and lifelong damages such as malformations of the embryo, brain damage, poor growth, birth defects, born prematurely or underweight, learning problems, and other less severe difficulties.
- These problems are permanent and can range from mild to severe.
7. Can I drink alcoholic beverages while breastfeeding?
Scientific research suggests that alcohol passes through the milk and may have a negative effect on the psychomotor development of the baby. If you choose to breastfeed, it is therefore recommended not to drink any alcoholic beverage.
- For more information about drinking during your pregnancy or while breastfeeding, ask your gynaecologist or your midwife.
8. Will I sober up if I drink a cup of coffee before leaving the party
Contrary to common belief, drinking a cup of coffee before leaving a party will not make any difference to your BAC level if you have had a couple of glasses of wine. The only thing you need to sober up, is time as your body can only metabolise the amount of alcohol at a constant rate every hour.
9. If I stop drinking 2h before driving home, will I be ok?
Stopping to drink 2h before taking the car will not always be enough. The only thing you need to sober up, is time as your body can only metabolise a certain amount of alcohol at a constant rate every hour. The number of alcoholic beverages you have had and the period of time over which you have consumed them will determine how much time you should wait until you are sober again. Our advice is to avoid consuming drinking alcoholic beverages when you drive, but if you would like to have more information, you can test this BAC calculator .
10. Can I drive in the morning after a big night out?
It depends on the amount of drinks, the speed at which they were consumed and the type of alcoholic beverage you chose. This will not always be true. Your body is only able to eliminate a certain constant amount of alcohol per hour. Your BAC levels could still be above the legal limits.