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Beverages/Fermented fruit and alcohol



I was reading about chimpanzees eating fermented fruit in order to get drunk, along the lines of this subject:-

What I would like to know is how much alcohol( upper limit)  can the fermentation of fruit generate? Would the presence of fruit sugar make it more likely to become drunk as a result, even with low alcohol levels? Thanks!

Hi Geoffrey

The yeast that ferments fruit in the wild is closely related to the yeast we use for beer and wine.  While it's possible that this yeast could create alcohol levels of 10% or higher, it's likely that animals would eat most of the fruit before it reached that point.  

But if you have ever seen birds eat fermenting berries, you know that it's enough to get them thoroughly drunk.  And there's no reason that apes or even primitive man would be any different!

Hope that helps...

Paul Wagner  


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Paul Wagner


I have spent most of my adult life eating and drinking throughout the world, and can usually remember some of it! With Rick Kushman of Capital Public Radio, I host a radio show and podcast called Bottletalk at, where I answer questions about food and drink on the air.


30 years in the business.

I have taught at Napa Valley College for the past 20 years.

Past/Present Clients
Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines Company, The Court of Master Sommeliers, Constellation Wines, The Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux, Vinitaly, Napa County Agricultural Commissioner.

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