If you enjoy meals that have wine sauces or alcohol added to the preparation, you should know that not all of that alcohol will burn off in most cases. Depending on when the alcohol is added during the preparation of the meal, 75% or more of it could remain.
The United States Department of Agriculture put together a simple list to help people understand how much alcohol could have been retained in their food. This list is only a guideline, but it may help you better grasp how much you’ve ingested and if you will need a sober driver after dinner.
How much alcohol is left when food is prepared with alcohol?
According to the USDA, if alcohol is included in a dish with no heat and then stored overnight, 70% of the alcohol will remain the next day. For flambé dishes, up to 75% of the alcohol will remain.
How much alcohol will remain if the food is simmered or baked?
Most dishes with alcohol will be cooked after the alcohol is added. For those dishes, the cooking time matters most. Alcohol percentages are around 5% less per half-hour. Here’s the full chart:
- 15 minutes: 40% alcohol
- 30 minutes: 35% alcohol
- One hour: 25% alcohol
- Two hours: 10% alcohol
For meals that cook over three hours on a simmer or boil, most of the alcohol should be cooked out.
Why is it important to ask if alcohol is in your food (and when it was added)?
It’s smart to ask if alcohol is in your food, because if you don’t and then drink alcohol on top, you could end up having a higher blood alcohol concentration than you thought. Instead of a single drink, your meal could add up to two or three, for example.
You might have planned to drive home after a single drink and waiting a couple of hours, but if you don’t know how much alcohol is in your food, the better option is to get a ride. It’s not worth getting behind the wheel and finding out that you’re impaired or over the limit during a traffic stop.