How Many Glasses of Prosecco To Get Drunk? The science.


Prosecco is the all conquering Italian sparkling wine. Sales continue to be strong and for the most part, the price point is attractive versus a Champagne meaning it is bought for more and more occasions. However not everyone can or wants to finish a bottle. Perhaps you have to work, drive, look after your kids etc and just don’t want to end up drunk. But then the question is, how many glasses of Prosecco to get drunk?

How many glasses of Prosecco to get drunk?

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The CDC states it takes the average 160lb adult male, 4 standard glasses of Prosecco to get drunk. A standard glass of wine is 5fl oz and 12% ABV. The 4 Proseccos have to be drank over 1-2 hours. If you are a female or lighter then it will take less wine, if you are a significantly heavier male, it may take 5+ glasses of Prosecco to get drunk.

What does drunk actually mean, what is the definition?

A starting point is the get a handle on what being “drunk” actually means under the law. It needs to be a bit more precise than not walking too straight.

A blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% is classed as legally intoxicated in the US.

So now we now need to calculate how many standard drinks would get your BAC to 0.08%.

How do you feel at different blood alcohol concentrations?

If you drink more alcohol than you can get rid of the your BAC rises. What a rising blood alcohol concentration causes in humans 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 may make poorer decisions.
  • 0.05%: When you reach this BAC, your behaviour will may become over exaggerated. Speaking louder and gesturing more are often seen. 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 most of 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%: At this BAC, reaction times and control will get even worse. Your speech will be slurred, you think slower, and your coordination becomes poor.
  • 0.15%: At nearly twice the drink driving limit, you will have much less control over your balance and voluntary muscles. The risk of falling and injuring yourself increases dramatically.

What is a standard glass of Wine?

Wine in general, but even Prosecco comes in lots of different size, shapes, flavours and strengths.

Luckily for everyone, the USDA have devised a list of “standard” alcoholic drinks. Each one contains the exact same amount of alcohol – 14g of alcohol (0.6 ounces).

Below is a list of the standard drinks, volumes and ABV that all give 14g of alcohol.

Drink and volumeAlcohol content
12fl oz Beer5%
5fl oz Wine12%
1.5fl oz Spirit40%
Standard Drinks

So as you can see, a standard wine is a 5fl oz and 12% alcohol by volume.

What is the ABV of Prosecco?

If the USDA are saying a standard wine is 12%, how much different is that from a standard glass of Prosecco?

Luckily for us, if you google this or look at a few bottles of Prosecco, there is a nice coincidence.

A standard bottle of Prosecco will be 12% ABV meaning it is in line with a standard wine as described by the USDA.

What is a standard measure of Prosecco?

The other variable that will determine how quickly you get drunk is the volume of Prosecco you drink.

Again, doing many googles there is a bit of a debate about what the best pour or measure of Prosecco should be. Seemingly you can either go for 4fl oz or 5fl oz.

I think for my calculations i will continue with 5fl oz for 2 reasons. Firstly, it matches the standard wine measure which makes the calculations easier and secondly, if you are using my (the CDC) calculations in real life then it is better to be more cautious. If you think you are able to have x4 4fl oz serving but end up getting a 5fl oz serving, you will have drank a whole extra glass and will probably have been tipped over the edge.

How many standard glasses of Prosecco to get drunk?

How many glasses of Prosecco does the average adult need to drink to get to a BAC of 0.08% and drunk under the law?

The CDC tells us that the average 160lb adult male will need to drink 4 standard drinks, in the case Prosecco, to get to a BAC of 0.08%.

The answer is therefore, it would take 4 standard glasses of Prosecco to get drunk. These need to be drank over 1-2 hours however, as your liver will start breaking down the alcohol in your blood as soon as it encounters it.

How does weight affect the number of glasses of Prosecco to get drunk?

How physically big you are has a huge impact on the amount of alcohol it takes to get you drunk. If you have ever been out drinking with friends, you might notice the larger ones seem they they have hollow legs compared to the smaller ones. 

Alcohol is distributed throughout the body so if you have more actual body, less of the alcohol will remain in your bloodstream, lowering your blood alcohol concentration.

Below is a table of how body size might affect the “4 Prosecco to get drunk” rule.

Glasses of Prosecco140lbs160lbs180lbs200lbs220lbs
10.030.020.020.020.02
20.050.050.040.040.03
30.080.070.060.060.05
40.110.090.080.080.07
50.130.120.110.090.09
BAC after standard Prosecco – adult male

How does sex affect the number of wines to get drunk?

Biological females get intoxicated quicker and with lower amounts of alcohol. This is due to a few reasons.

A female will on average be smaller than a male, they have circa 40% less alcohol dehydrogenase (the enzyme that breaks down alcohol) than an equivalent male and they have a higher percentage of fat to lean mass so more of the alcohol is in their bloodstream.

Below is another table of how many glasses of wine it would take a female of various sizes to get drunk. Remember the magic number to be classified as drink is 0.08% BAC

Glasses of Prosecco140lbs160lbs180lbs200lbs220lbs
10.030.030.030.020.02
20.070.060.050.050.04
30.100.090.080.070.06
40.130.110.100.090.08
50.160.140.130.110.10
BAC after standard Prosecco – adult female

What other factors affects how quickly you get drunk?

Ethnicity

Different ethnicities have variants of some key genetic components that are needed to break down alcohol and therefore their blood alcohol concentration spikes quicker.

Notable examples would be people of Asian or Native American descent can have reduced levels of alcohol dehydrogenase, which breaks down alcohol. This means they would get drunk quicker and on less beer.

Last meal

Nearly everyone knows if you drink on an empty stomach you will get drunk quicker. The local term we use here is “soakage”, as in you need some before a big session on the beer.

A large meal, close to when you are going to start drink, will lower the absolute peak of your blood alcohol concentration. The food delays the alcohol leaving your stomach and into the bloodstream.

Tolerance

The more you drink the more tolerance you can build up to the affects of alcohol.

Energy levels

If you feel especially tired or have had a lack of sleep, you will feel the intoxicating effects of alcohol sooner than if you were well rested.

Medication

If you mix alcohol with sedating prescription medications or illegal drugs then these can work to enhance the sedative affects of alcohol and make you feel drunk much quicker.

Mood

Believe it or not, having very strong motions like anger, fear or being lonely can bring on the affects of alcohol quicker. If you are out at a bar with the expectation of being drunk, you may well feel drunk sooner as well from the placebo effect.

Hormones

Some birth control pills or drinking at the premenstrual stage of a woman’s cycle can lead to higher blood alcohol concentrations.

Is there a non alcoholic or alcohol free Prosecco?

Yes and it is actually very good. It is called Nozeco.

I have all the information you need on Nozeco here, a full tasting article review here and i have even worked out how many Nozeco it would take to get drunk here (spoiler – you can’t!)

How many non alcoholic and alcohol free wines to get drunk?

If it takes 4 standard wines to get drunk, it would take 96 glasses of non alcoholic wine and 960 glasses of alcohol free wine to get drunk.

You can read all the math on my non alcoholic wines to get drunk and alcohol free wines to get drunk articles

philmcclelland

Hi im Phil. Im the sole writer on this site. For more info look at my about page https://www.openingthebottle.com/about-us/

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