Difference between Wine and Spirits

Wine and spirits such as whiskey or vodka are widely consumed alcoholic beverages. This article will explain the differences between them.


Red, white and rosé wines
Red, white and rosé wines (from left to right)

Wine is an alcoholic beverage made by the fermentation of fruits. The most common fruit used in the production of wine is the grape, but a variety of other fruits are sometimes used. The process of wine production, known as winemaking, is as follows: fruits are crushed, releasing the juice. The juice is then fermented with yeast, and then bottled to be drunk. There are three main types of wine: white wine, red wine, and rosé wine, all three of which are pictured above.

Spirits in the supermarket
Spirits in the supermarket

Spirits, also called hard liquors, distilled beverages, and liquors, are alcoholic beverages made by distilling a fermented product. The fermented liquid, usually called a mash, made out of grains or other substances, is then put into a heated container, known as a still. The alcohol evaporates first, and the machine is then cooled to collect the drops of alcohol. Spirits include whiskey, gin, vodka, and brandy. A variety is pictured above.

Comparison chart

Wine Spirits
Made by fermenting fruits. Made by distilling a fermented product.
Made from fruits. Made from a mash.
Lower alcoholic content. Higher alcoholic content.

Wine vs Spirits

What is the difference between wine and spirits? The main differences are in the production process, the ingredients that go into making both, and the content of alcohol.

Wine is made only through fermentation. The juice of fruits is fermented with yeast to create alcohol. Spirits, on the other hand, are made by distilling a fermented product. Distilled wine is also made, and it is known as brandy.

Wine is made with fruits, whereas spirits are made with a mash, which is a combination of grains and other ingredients.

Wine typically has an alcoholic content of 9-12% ABV, but spirits almost always have a 40% ABV.


The two videos below, from the Discovery channel’s How It’s Made series, show how wine and spirits are made.