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Alcohol

Alcohol is an organic chemical that combines carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. They are formed in a particular way so that there is an -OH group in the molecule. The ingredient in wine, beer, and other spirits is ethyl alcohol, also called ethanol. This is created by yeast, when the yeast ferments sugars. The fermentation process creates both alcohol and carbon dioxide.

Alcohol by itself does not really have a taste, but a wine with a higher level of alcohol often "feels" hotter in your mouth, and is more full bodied. A wine with a lower level of alcohol feels lighter.

Winemakers often wish to make a wine with a higher alcohol level, but this isn't just to 'get drunk'. It's because the higher alcohol helps keep the wine from spoiling.

It's always good to investigate what you eat and drink, to keep your body running smoothly for as many years as possible. With many wine drinkers now drinking a glass or two nightly to keep them healthy, learning more about the alcohol levels in wine helps increase your knowledge about this beneficial drink.

First off, some wine bottles (and almost all alcohol bottles) list their alcohol content in terms of "proof". Proof is simply the percentage of alcohol times 2. If a wine has 10% alcohol in it, it might be labelled as 20 proof. That Bacardi 151 on the shelf is over 75% alcohol. Heady stuff!

Beer is the lowest 'typical alcohol' as far as percentage of alcohol goes, at around 5% alcohol. Wine is next at around 8-10%, and hard liquors go up from there. Normally, because you drink these alcohols in different glass sizes, the actual alcohol per drink stays about the same. You tend to drink a large glass (12 oz) of beer, a regular glass (4 oz) of wine, and a shot (1.5 oz) of the hard stuff.

Wine legally can only have up to 14% alcohol in it, or 28 proof. If wine exceeds this amount it needs to be labelled as a 'dessert wine'. Port is one of the most widely known dessert wines - smooth and rich, delicious with chocolate.

A glass of wine will be fully into your blood stream after about an hour, and takes about an hour to filter back out again. This is why normally people advise you to drink one drink an hour, to give your body time to process it. A single drink will bring you to .03% Blood Alcohol Level (BAC) - most states start imposing penalties if you cross .10% BAC (i.e. about 3 drinks within an hour).

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