Wine coolers are a popular party beverage because they have a lower alcohol content than other cocktails, but have you ever wondered what are the components to wine coolers? Or exactly how much alcohol content there is?


Wine coolers are an alcoholic beverage with a low percentage of alcohol often mixed with carbonated beverages, various flavoring and sugars. Sangria, which is a mix of fruit, juice and alcohol, is a popular form of homemade wine cooler. However, sangria is also mass produced and can be found in retail and specialty stores.


Wine coolers started as a homemade beverage often served at parties or social gatherings. They were made by mixing fruit juices and sugar with small amounts of wine. However, ever since the United States government raised wine taxes in 1991, a lot of mass producers of wine coolers started substituting other alcohols, such as malts, as an ingredient in place of wine.

Actual Percentages in Wine Coolers

The actual amount of alcohol in wine coolers varies depending on whether it is homemade or mass produced and sold in grocery store. However, the alcohol content is normally less than 10 percent. For example, a lot of the wine coolers that can be bought in grocery stores usually between 4 percent and 6 percent alcohol content.

How to Make Your Own Wine Coolers

Making your own wine coolers is simple. Mixing your favorite wine with your favorite juice is a good start. Normally berry juices work well with red wines, and citrus juices work well with white wines. Try slicing up some of your favorite fruit into the mixed beverage and chilling it in the refrigerator for several days prior to drinking and serving. By then, all the fruit’s flavors will have distributed in your beverage providing a refreshing drink.

Popular Wine Cooler Brand Names

Some popular wine cooler brands include: Seagrams®, Bartles & Jaymes® and Smirnoff Ice®. These companies produce wine coolers with a wide array of flavors from watermelon to mojito to black cherry.

Cooking Wine Alcohol Content

Cooking wine is intended to be used in the cooking process and usually has an alcohol content between 12% and 20%. Many wines can be used in cooking, but “cooking wine” is created differently than drinking wines. Cooking wine is fermented with the intent to achieve a higher amount of alcohol. This is paired with a large amount of salt in the wine. This is due to the fact that much of the alcohol and salt will be burned off during the cooking process. If the wine had a lower ABV, you may not get the intended effect in the end result.

what percent alcohol is wine coolers
what percent alcohol is wine coolers

Can You Drink Cooking Wine?

Cooking wine is not intended for drinking, so the ABV can be misleading. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food baked or simmered in alcohol for an hour only has 25% of the alcohol left. After two hours, that number is down to 5%. You will never cook out the entirety of the alcohol.

Moscato Wine Alcohol Content

As a sweet dessert wine, moscato has a low alcohol content of 5% to 7% ABV. Moscato is made from Italian Muscat grapes which are also commonly used to make raisins. This grape gives the wine a light, sugary flavor profile reminiscent of peaches or oranges.

The sweet, citrus flavor of moscato has made it very popular in recent years. The wine is often served as the dessert to a fine dining experience or enjoyed during the summer as a refreshing drink. It might even make delicious adult popsicles if you happen to freeze the wine.

Plum Wine Alcohol Content

Sweet-and-sour plum wine is immensely popular in Japan and has an average alcohol content of 12% ABV.   This added sugar also helps achieve a moderately-high level of alcohol even though the wine is a light color.

With such a unique flavor profile, drinking plum wine might make you completely forget that wine is acidic.

White Wine Alcohol Content

The alcohol content in white wine varies from 5% to 14% but comes in at an average of 10% ABV. The less ripe, white grapes used in fermentation have less sugar than darker grapes. This sugar converts to ethanol at a lower rate as well. This gives white wine its sweet taste but keeps it light and refreshing.

Since there’s less alcohol, it’s also easy to drink more white wine in one sitting. This can sometimes be more than intended. To avoid this, try only using a standard wine pour or pick up a set of wine glasses with pour lines.

Wine Cooler Alcohol Content

Wine coolers have a much lower alcohol content than most other wines, coming in at an average of 4-6% ABV. These drinks have a lower ABV because they are only partially wine. This wine is usually also mixed with fruit juice, a carbonated beverage, and sugar.

Wine coolers have been a popular party drink of choice since the 1980s due to their lower level of alcohol and sweet taste. In the United States, many “wine coolers” don’t even have wine in them. In their place, malt liquor is used to skirt excise taxes on wine while maintaining the alcohol levels.

what percent alcohol is wine coolers
what percent alcohol is wine coolers

Port Wine Alcohol Content

Port wine is a heavy, dark, red wine with an alcohol content of 16% to 20%, with an average of 18% ABV. Port wine has more alcohol than other reds because it is a fortified wine. Fortification is when a wine has distilled grape spirits added during fermentation. This halts the fermentation process before all sugar is converted to alcohol making port sweeter than most reds as well. It also increases the alcohol content since the spirits added have a high ABV.

The rich flavors of port wine also benefit greatly from aeration and decanting. So pick up one of the best wine aerators or best wine decanters to get the most out of a vintage port.

Sweet Wine Alcohol Content

The sweetness of wine is inextricably linked to its alcohol content, and wine classified as sweet wine usually has less than 10% ABV. Sweet wine is a generic term covering many dessert wines, usually white wines. Some sweet wine can have as little as 5% ABV. Since there’s so much sugar, you might want to avoid dessert wines if you care about the number of calories in a bottle of wine.

Rose Wine Alcohol Content

Rose wine (or rosé) falls on the color spectrum in between a red and white and has an average alcohol content of 12% ABV. Rosé wines are fermented with the grape juice that has contact with the grape skins for a short period. This adds some coloration to the wine but keeps it from being a true red wine.

Since rosé is a wine that is in the middle of the others, it can vary in hue, alcohol content, and taste. Many people think of rosé wines as pink, but they can be anywhere from purple to orange. Rosé wines can also run the gamut from sweet to dry. Some common rosé wines are white zinfandel, Provencal rosé, and Blush Chablis.