5 fast facts all Kiwi drinkers should know

Our recent Facebook post on Standard Drinks prompted lots of questions and debate on social media, so we thought we would dedicate this month’s article to debunking a few myths and helping you understand exactly what standard drinks are and why they are so important.

Research shows that 80% of us have heard about standard drinks, but only 25% of us can explain what it means. Even fewer of us know how to pour one, so this cheat sheet is designed to give you the facts you need to make smarter drinking choices.

Fact 1:

A healthy adult liver 1 can only process 10gms of pure alcohol per hour and there is absolutely NO way to speed this process up. Yes water, food, medication, your size etc can make us feel the effects of the alcohol differently but they DON’T speed up the processing of the alcohol itself.


Fact 2:

A standard drink is an alcoholic beverage that contains 10gms of pure alcohol. It is not necessarily 1 glass or bottle, so when experts say “one an hour” is a good rule of thumb for most adult drinkers, they are talking standards not vessels.

Fact 3:

The number of standard drinks in your favourite tipple will be printed on the label so you have all the information you need to make an informed choice right at your fingertips … quite literally!


Fact 4:

The standard drinks information is telling you how long it will take your body to process (or metabolize if you want the technical term) the alcohol in that bottle or can. For example, this label says 1.3 standard drinks, that means it will take you 1.3 hours to process the alcohol in that one bottle. A bottle of Sav Blanc at a BYO dinner will be more like 7.4 hours if you drink it alone! Food for thought isn’t it?

Fact 5:

As the ABV (the strength of the alcohol) goes up, the volume of a standard drink decreases and that is why we can drink 330ml of a 4% beer and only 30mls of a 40% spirit before we hit the 1 standard drink mark.

Knowing what a standard drink is and that your body can only process 1 standard drink per hour is the key to smarter drinking regardless of what you drink. So now you know the facts, here is a quick Standard Drinks guide to give you an idea of how much you’re really drinking:

Let’s now look at what a long lunch, a night out with friends or a family get together might look like:

  • 2 standard glasses of wine at lunch – 3 hours to process
  • A dozen 5% beers on Friday night – 15.6 hours to process
  • A bottle of red shared with your partner over dinner – 4.15 hours to process per person (total 8.3 hours)
  • An afternoon enjoying a six pack of ciders in the sunshine – 7.8 hours to process

That is why our body and mind are affected by alcohol when we drink. If you drink more than 1 standard drink an hour, your other vital organs, namely your heart, brain and lungs will be called on to support the liver to do its job, which is not great for our health & wellbeing. You can read more about these effects on the body here, or if you are keen to see the journey your body goes through when you drink, check out our Blood Alcohol Simulator here.   Please note this is a reference tool only. It should not be used to help you make serious decisions e.g. those linked to driving.

So next time you drink remember the 1:1 rule:  1 standard drink = 1 hour to process. You can practise pouring a standard drink here using our interactive pour tool. You can also keep a more accurate count of your Standard Drinks thanks to our online drinks calculator.

Let’s raise a glass to drinking smarter !

Alcohol&Me team