Alcohol Content in Beer vs. Wine: The Complete Guide!

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As the two most popular drinks, beer and wine have a lot of fans. They are both on the more mellow side and go excellent with food, which is what makes them so popular. Depending on what you prefer, both beer and wine can do an excellent job taste-wise and kick-wise. 

However, they produce different experiences and different types of drunkenness. Still, to the right audience, either of them can do an excellent job and offer what the drinker seeks at the moment. 

Even though they are very popular, they do require different palates. Wine is more complex than beer, but beer can sometimes be heavier than wine.

Nevertheless, both wine and beer are very wide categories, so you may stumble upon very light beers and heavy wines. Still, on average, beer is regarded as the heavier one. 

In addition to being entirely different drinks derived from different base materials, the main difference between wine and beer is the alcohol content. Initially, you may think that wine has a higher alcohol content, but some beer types have more alcohol than wine. 

Beer usually varies between 0.5% of alcohol to 12%. There are craft beers that have an alcohol content higher than 12%, but they are small-batch beers coming from small, usually family breweries and aren’t widely available.

Wine has a higher alcohol range, with the least being 10% and the most being about 25%. Again, different types of wine have different alcohol amounts, but, generally speaking, wine is the stronger of the two, even though you may stumble upon some wines that are weaker than beer. 

The thing that determines the alcohol amount in beer and wine is the sugar content, which is generally higher in wine than in beer.

In the following article, I will explain the alcohol content differences between wine and beer so you pick wisely at your next wine/beer party. 

beer vs wine alcohol content

Types of Beer and Alcohol Content 

As I mentioned earlier, the alcohol amount in beer is not as clean-cut as one might think.

The alcohol content in beer highly depends on the type of beer, as different beers require different making processes and different base materials.

Of course, all beer adheres to a unified recipe observing the ingredients and procedures that make it beer, but there are variations and styles that further subdivide the beer category.  


Malt beer is a low-alcohol beer brewed regularly but with minimum fermentation. It is known as very gentle and nutritious and is often recommended to nursing mothers as it improves the quality and quantity of milk. 

The name itself, malt, is related to the word “Malta,” which means grain soda; since it is so mild, it resembles soda more than beer. Malt beers can sometimes be non-alcoholic, but if they do contain alcohol, it varies from 0.5% to 2.5%. 

Malt beers are also very delicious and recognizable for their gentle and nutty flavor enveloped in sweetness and a pleasant fresh aroma. 



Ales are made by fermenting yeast on top of the grains during brewing. Ales can be pale and dark, whereby the pale ones are lower in alcohol, and the dark is the stronger ones. 

Pale ales usually have up to 5% of alcohol, while dark ales have a slightly higher percentage of up to 6.5% of alcohol. 

Ales are known as fruity beers, very flavorful and fragrant and slightly more complex than lagers, for example. They are also bitterer and more intense than lagers.

Nevertheless, ales have a very large consumer body, mainly because they often feature cocktails and mixes. 


Stout is a dark beer that comes from unmalted barley. Its alcohol content varies from 5.5% to 8%. It is a typical dark beer, expressively sweet and bitter.

They are heavy and satiating and are best described as combining flavors of coffee and dark chocolate, spiking the typical grainy beer flavor. 


Lagers come from fermenting yeasts and are stored in cold temperatures. These beers are probably what comes to mind when you think about beer. From flavor to kick, they are pretty standard. 

The alcohol amount of lagers varies from 4.5% to 13%, so they are a little stronger than the average alcohol amount in beer, which is about 4%. Lagers are beer for beer drinkers, as you need to have developed a taste to like them. 

They usually taste light, fresh, a little sharp, and very carbonated. Lager is the most popular and most consumed beer worldwide. 


Porter is a type of dark beer coming from malted barley. It tastes similar to Stout but with a bigger intensity. Its alcohol content varies from 4.8% to 6.5%, and it is a very popular dark beer. While Stout tastes like a combination between dark chocolate and coffee, Porter tastes like highly roasted and smoky coffee and dark chocolate. 


Bocks are essentially dark lagers that are heavier, more substantial, and slightly stronger than regular lagers. Their alcohol amount varies between 6% and 7%. These beers are made by fermenting yeast on the bottom of the grains during the brewing process. 

Bocks taste robust, bitter, and toasty, with slight hints of caramel. Overall, they are very delicious beers, and lately, they seem to grow in popularity. 

Types of Wine and Alcohol Content 

Even though wine is generally stronger than beer, still the alcohol amount in wine varies depending on the type. Therefore, your personal experience with wine and beer may be different than the general one. 

Since there are many types of wine, I will talk about the most general division of wine, i.e., white, red, and fortified wines. 

White Wine

White wine is softer than red wine and is lower in alcohol. The alcohol content of white wine ranges between 5% and 15%, whereby most often, it contains 10% of alcohol.

White wine is sweeter and fruitier than red wine, and it often pairs with desserts and fruit. White wine comes from white grapes, and the fermentation process doesn’t include the seeds and skin. 

While red wine is often made from ripe dark grapes, white wine uses grapes that aren’t entirely ripe, which results in lower sugar amounts making this wine lower in alcohol content compared to red wine. 



Fortified wines are the strongest in the wine department. Just for illustration, vermouth is a fortified wine. However, there are also other fortified wines such as port, sherry, marsala, and Madeira. 

Fortified wines are sharp but very delicious and smooth. In essence, fortified wine is a wine containing added distilled spirit, most often brandy.

The alcohol amount of fortified wine varies from 17% to 22%, making it pretty strong. Depending on the brand, you may stumble upon some true delicacies. 

Red Wine

Red wine is probably the most popular wine to pair with savory foods. It is most commonly made from dark grapes and has a pungent and intense aroma. It is fruity but heavy, and it tends to be stronger than white wine. 

Flavor-wise, red wine is very variable, as it depends on where it comes from. Therefore, there are sweet red wines, sour ones, fruity, smoky, etc. Nevertheless, if something binds all red wines, it is their intensity and richness. 

Red wines vary in alcohol content from 12% to 15%. They are made by fermenting grapes, including the skin and seeds, and are high in tannins. 

Is A Glass Of Wine Stronger Than A Beer?

Generally speaking, yes, a glass of wine is stronger than beer in the same amount. However, it doesn’t always have to be the case. It depends on which type of wine and beer we are comparing. 

For example, if we are talking about a glass of fortified wine and beer, any beer, then the fortified wine would win. If the comparison is between a lager and white wine, the lager would probably be the stronger one. 

Red wine is, in any case, stronger than any beer type, while white wine can compare with some lagers. 

How Many Beers Equal 1 Glass Of Wine?

A glass of fortified wine equals two cans of lager and probably three cans of other beers. A white or red wine glass equals a can of lager or two cans of other beer types.

Since one glass of wine has far less liquid than a can of beer, this comparison gravitates more toward a general assumption, and it doesn’t apply to all cases. 

Why Is Wine More Alcoholic Than Beer?

Wine is more alcoholic than beer because of the sugar. Wine is made with grapes which are the fruit that is richest in sugar. Beer comes from grains, barley most commonly, and contains less sugar than wine. 

However, beer is rich in carbs resulting from the yeast and barley combination, but in terms of sugar content, barley is not a rich sugar source. 

Since alcohol comes from converting sugar to ethanol, wine is the stronger drink. Nevertheless, depending on the type, there are some beers that are higher in alcohol content than some wines. 



Chad Smith

Meet Chad Smith, a seasoned bartender with a passion for mixology. He's the founder of Tin Roof Drink Community, a blog where he shares expert tips, creative recipes, and fosters a vibrant community of cocktail enthusiasts and aspiring bartenders. Join Chad as he takes you on a flavorful journey through the world of drinks. Cheers!

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