Q: Are wines that are higher in alcohol better or worse for my health? —Elizabeth
A: There have been no large population-wide studies on this topic so it's hard to be specific, but according to Stephan Kamholz, MD, department chair of medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, "the alcohol percentage in wine is not the critical factor, it is the volume of wine or other alcohol-containing-beverage consumed." The USDA defines moderate alcohol consumption as one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. By their standards, a drink is defined as a 5-ounce glass of wine with an alcohol volume of 12 percent, which equals 0.6 fluid ounces of alcohol. As Kamholz explains, "high alcohol wines are not intrinsically 'more dangerous', but the imbiber needs to be aware that the total amount of alcohol consumed rises more rapidly per unit of volume ingested." A glass of wine with 14 percent alcohol would be 4.3 ounces instead of 5, while a glass of wine with 11 percent alcohol would be almost 5.5 ounces -- something to keep in mind when tallying your intake.
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