Here, Ray Isle tells all about wine's active ingredient.

The Process Explained

In wine production, yeasts convert the natural sugar in grapes to carbon dioxide (a gas that blows off) and alcohol. Thus, the amount of alcohol in a wine usually depends on how much sugar is in the grapes when they’re harvested—in short, how ripe they are. But underripe grapes may produce vegetal flavors or harsh levels of acidity in wines, and overripe grapes can result in cooked, raisiny flavors and a flabby texture. The grape grower’s and winemaker’s art (or skill) is in finding the ideal midpoint—something dependent on the grape variety, region, winemaking style and a host of other factors.

How Much is Too Much?

How many glasses of wine does it take to become legally impaired? It depends on how much alcohol is in the wine (but the right amount to drink before driving is zero).

6 oz glass = 8% alcohol


140 lb female


180 lb male

6 oz glass = 12% alcohol


140 lb female


180 lb male

6 oz glass = 16% alcohol


140 lb female


180 lb male

More Wine Tips:

Tips for Finding Light Wine
Light Wines for Hot Days
Big, Balanced Red Wines