Dear Mayo Clinic: I enjoy a glass of wine each night with dinner and sometimes have another before bed. My husband is concerned and thinks I should take a break from it to make sure I’m not becoming addicted. Is it possible to face health problems just by having one or two drinks at night?
A: For most people, an occasional glass of wine with dinner or a drink in the evening is fine. When drinking becomes a daily activity, though, it can put you at risk for health issues. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, drinking is considered to be moderate or low-risk for women at no more than three drinks in any one day and no more than seven drinks a week. For men, it’s no more than four drinks a day and no more than 14 drinks a week.
Those guidelines are based on standard-size drinks. One standard drink contains about 14 grams of pure alcohol. That equals 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, 8 to 9 ounces of malt liquor and 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits or “hard” liquor. If you’re not careful, it’s easy to drink more than a standard drink in one glass. For example, many wine glasses hold far more than 5 ounces. You could easily drink 8 ounces in a glass. If you have one of those glasses during a meal and another before bed, you’re consuming three standard drinks in one evening.