Can Non Alcoholic Wine Get You Drunk? Numbers crunched.

Non alcoholic and alcohol free wines are relatively new. Certainly the new breed of palatable ones! Lots of first time “non” drinkers are asking “Can i get drunk on non alcoholic wine?”.

Instinctively you would think no, but how is drunk defined, how many alcoholic drinks is that and how many non alcoholic? The best way is to look at the definitions and crunch some numbers to see what you need to drink and over what timeframe.

In general you are unable to get drunk from non alcoholic (<0.5% ABV) wine and it is impossible to get drunk from alcohol free (0.0%) wine. The volume of non alcoholic wine required to raise your blood alcohol concentration to the legal intoxication level is not possible to consume or digest.

Can you get drunk on non alcoholic wine?

To get a handle on what exactly “drunk” is, we need to look at what the legal definition of being intoxicated is and what you may experience at blood alcohol concentrations lower than that.

After that the next logical step is to look at how many alcoholic drinks or glasses of wine it take to raise you blood alcohol concentration to that legal level.

Finally, we need to translate this alcoholic or standard drink level into how many non alcoholic or alcohol free drinks that equates to and if you can even drink that volume of fluid in a timeframe to get you drunk.

Spoiler alert! – you can’t get drunk on non alcoholic wine or alcohol free wine. You would likely die trying. Read on to see what it would really take to go down your throat to make you drunk…

How does your blood alcohol level rise.

Let’s track the alcohol that enters your body. You drink it into your stomach then it passes into your gut and intestines.

You absorb the alcohol from your gut, thats its main job, then it passes into your bloodstream via capillary beds. The more alcohol you drink, the more you absorb via your gut and the higher your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) tracks. It seems like a nice easy equation.

On the opposite side of things is your liver. It is working hard to lower your BAC by breaking down the alcohol via an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase.

You have to consume more alcohol than your liver enzymes get rid of, over a given time frame, for your BAC to keep going up.

If you scull a bottle of wine over 10 minutes it will naturally overwhelm your livers ability to process the alcohol resulting in your BAC soaring. Drinking the same bottle of wine over 6 hours gives your liver a chance to keep you on a level.

What are the effects of a rising BAC?

When you drink more alcohol than your liver can metabolise, your BAC rises. The effects of a rising blood alcohol concentration has been tracked by many studies.

Lots of informational websites include this data now.

  • 0.02% – Probably the lowest measurable BAC where you can track any brain issues. You may feel more relaxed and potentially make poorer decisions.
  • 0.05%: When you hit this BAC, your behaviour may become over exaggerated. Speak louder and gesturing more are common. You may also begin to lose control of small muscles like the ones that control your eyes leading to blurry vision.
  • 0.08%: This is the current legal driving limit in the U.S and many areas around the world. It is also the legal definition of intoxicated in the US. You will likely lose some coordination, so your reaction times, speech, balance, and even hearing will deteriorate.
  • 0.10%: As we reach this BAC, reaction times and control will be reduced further. Your speech will be slurred, you think slower, and your coordination becomes poor.
  • 0.15%: Getting up to twice the legal driving limit now. You will have much less control over your balance and voluntary muscles. We have all seen someone who finds walking and talking difficult after a lot of alcohol. Falling and injuring yourself is a real possibility now.
  • 0.20-0.29%: Common features at this BAC are confusion, feeling dazed, and disorientation. Sensations of pain will change, so if you fall and seriously hurt yourself, you might not care or notice. You might not seek medical attention if you do hurt yourself. Nausea and vomiting are pretty likely with your the gag reflex starting to suffer. This can cause choking or aspirating on vomit. Blackouts begin at this BAC, so you may participate in events that you don’t remember.
  • 0.30-0.39%: You are most definitely drunk at this point. You might not be alert and the risk of death creeps in. Lots of body systems become effected. Heart rate can rise, breathing can become poor and bladder control goes.
  • 0.40% and over: This is end game territory. Alcohol is affecting all your body functions. You will be unconscious and at high risk of dying. This is a lethal blood alcohol level.

What is “drunk” legally speaking

So as we can see from the above, a BAC of 0.08% is what is needed to be legally intoxicated in the US. From this we can then work out how much alcohol you would need to drink to get your BAC to this level.

Clearly this topic overlaps with the previous section on drink driving as the BAC end point is the same but it’s worth spending some additional time understanding what exacted would need to be drank, in what volume and over what timescale. My blog on drinking non alcoholic drinks and driving is here.

How many standard drinks to get drunk?

There are a huge number of variables that affect how quickly your BAC will rise. Age, sex, weight, overall health and your past drinking experience or tolerance to alcohol all play their part to a greater or lesser degree.

Some ethnicities don’t have a fully functioning alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme. It is therefore very different to generalise across a population.

Im a 200lb+ adult male with a decent alcohol history/tolerance and i know i can consume more than my wife who is half my weight!

2 standard glasses of wine, consumed over an hour, would probably get your blood alcohol concentration to around the 0.4-0.6% level on average.

If you are a tiny 100 lb female this might get your BAC to 0.08% so i will use this amount. You will feel some effects of alcohol intoxication even before the legal intoxication threshold so I will use this for the calculations to come.

Standard drinks vs non alcoholic drinks

Ok, let’s examine how may of the various types of low and non alcoholic wines it takes to equal 2 standard glasses of wine.

5 Fl 0z glass of wine by ABV %x2 US/Canadian Standard DrinksequivalentDrinks needed for same alcohol volume
12% red wine22
1.2% Low alcohol0.220
0.5% Dealcoholised/Non alcoholic0.08348
0.05% Alcohol free0.0083480
Standard wine vs low/non alcoholic wine

So you can see for a 0.5% wine you’d need to consume x48 5 fl oz glasses to have the equivalent of 2 standard glasses of wine. This means you’d need to be drinking nearly a glass a minute for an hour. It is over 1.5 gallons of wine in an hour. Good luck with that.

In metric that is 7 litres! If anyone loves non alcoholic wine that much and can physically drink that volume off it please leave a comment below!

To get the alcohol of 2 standard glasses of wine you would be drinking nearly 10 bottles of 0.5% non alcoholic wine. The kicker is you have to drink it in the same time period. As soon as you start drinking, your liver starts to work breaking down the alcohol.

The numbers are even more ludicrous for the alcohol free version. Its really not humanly possible to drink x10 the previous numbers. 15 gallons, 70litres or 96 bottles of alcohol free wine in an hour. Trying to get anywhere near this would surely kill you.

Now remember this is all just to get your BAC to somewhere towards 0.08%. You would then need to keep drinking at least half that level every hour to maintain it at his level. It’s just not gonna happen.


In general you are unable to get drunk from non alcoholic (<0.5% ABV) wine and it is impossible to get drunk from alcohol free (0.0%) wine. The volume of non alcoholic wine required to raise your blood alcohol concentration to the legal intoxication level is not possible to consume or digest.

If you did manage to drink the 1.5 gallons of wine to get near the legal intoxication level you would then need to keep drinking this amount every 1-2hrs to main it. Your liver will metabolise away 0.02% BAC an hour to reduce you back to normal.

Id not recommend trying to drink the required about of non alcoholic wine to get you drunk. Unless you don’t like your kidneys!!

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