Alcohol by Volume (ABV)
Definition - What does Alcohol by Volume (ABV) mean?
Alcohol by volume (ABV) is a standard unit of measure for the amount of alcohol present in a given volume of any alcoholic beverage, and it varies depending on the alcoholic beverage. ABV uses the quantity of pure ethanol, measured in millimeters at the temperature of 20 degrees celsius standardized by content in a 100-millimeter solution. Typically the ABV in wine ranges from 12.5% to 14.5%. However, some fortified wines can reach close to 20% ABV.
WineFrog explains Alcohol by Volume (ABV)
During the wine making process, yeast is required, and a sugary solution is added to yeast. As the wine undergoes fermentation, the sugar is absorbed by the yeast. This process creates the alcohol content in wine. During the wine making process, the density of sugar is greater than the density of alcohol in water, and this determines the specific gravity (SG) of the solution. The ABV in the solution can be closely estimated based on the measurement of SG of the solution before and after fermentation.
For example, the ABV of Pinot Noir ranges from 13% to 14%. Though there are many ways to determine an estimate of the alcohol content in wine, ABV is has been the standard and simplest measure since English author C.J.J. Berry introduced this method.
The formula to calculate ABV is as follows:
ABV=(Starting SG – Final SG)/7.36
As per the law of wine making regions, wineries must state the alcohol content of a wine on its label. Consequently, wine labels generally have a numerical percentage of the ABV.