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How strong are wine, beer, cider, and prosecco? Average ABV explained


How strong is your drink of choice? (Picture: Getty)

A round at your local may be about to get a little cheaper.

In the Autumn 2021 budget, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced cuts to some alcohol duties, with the price of a pint set to fall by 3p.

It will see a 5% cut to duty on draught beer and cider, but stronger alcoholic drinks like red wine and white cider will see a ‘small increase’ in a bid to ‘end the era of cheap high strength drinks’.

Sparkling wine and prosecco costs will fall by around 62p a bottle as well.

The new system will be following the rule ‘the stronger the drink, the higher the rate’ and will come into effect in February 2023.

One rate will apply to drinks between 1.2% and 3.4%, then others on 3.5% to 8.4%, 8.5% to 22% and 22% and above.

It means the tax rate will be judged on the ABV level of the respective beverage.

What exactly does ABV mean, and what is the average level of your favourite drinks?

What does ABV stand for?

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ABV stands for alcohol by volume and refers to the percentage of a drink that is pure alcohol.

It is a standard measurement that is used to determine the alcohol strength in your favourite beverage.

Put simply: the higher the alcohol content, the higher the ABV.

How strong are wine, beer, cider, and prosecco?

While the ABV of each drink can differ, a common ABV level is between 5 to 12%.

You can always find the respective alcohol percentage of a drink on the label and packaging of your drink of choice. 

Prosecco has a lower ABV than most wines (Picture: Getty)

Beer and cider are at the lower end of the spectrum, with 4 to 8%, while the ABVs of wine are higher, ranging anywhere from 12 to 18% on average.

The ABV of prosecco ranges from 10.5 to 12% depending on your bottle of choice.

Here is a breakdown of average ABV levels across different types of alcoholic beverages and spirits:

  • Beer/Cider: 4-8%
  • Prosecco: 10-12%
  • Unfortified Wine: 12-16%
  • Fortified Wine: 16-25%
  • Whiskey: 36-50%
  • Tequila: 50-51%
  • Bourbon: 40%
  • Fine Liqueurs: 15%
  • Gin: 36-50%
  • Vodka: 40-95%
  • Rum: 36-50%
  • Amaretto Sour: 22%


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