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Whining Over Wine Glass Sizes

Bigger Goblets Equals More Consumption

Reduce alcohol consumption by reducing wine glass sizes.

By John Salak –

Excessive alcohol consumption is no laughing matter. Drinking is the fifth leading contributor to premature death and disease globally. Despite its well-recognized dangers, it’s tough to get people to stop or at least cut back on their drinking.

The Brits, however, may have come up with a simple or even cost-efficient solution. Reduce the size of glasses serving alcohol. The idea isn’t new but new research out of England’s University of Cambridge found that if restaurants and pubs took away their largest individual serving size of wine they reduced the overall amount of alcohol served and consequently consumed. In other words, people didn’t automatically order more smaller servings to make up for the larger glasses that were no longer available.

The Cambridge findings were based on data drawn from 21 businesses in England that serve alcohol. Over a four-week period, these businesses removed their largest servings of wine by the glass, usually 250 milliliters, which amounts to almost 8.5 ounces. In comparison, the standard wine pour is about 5 ounces or 150 milliliters. BinWise.com reports. 

The university team then tracked the total volume of wine, beer and cider sold by each establishment. The researchers found that over the four weeks, the total volume of wine sold decreased by 7.6 percent, while there was no overall increase in beer and cider sales. There was a marginal increase in the sales of smaller servings of wine by the glass—generally 125 ml and 175 ml –but no impact on sales of wine by the bottle or beer or cider sales.

The good news for restaurants is that even with the decline in wine sold, revenues were unchanged, which likely reflects the increased profit margin for smaller glasses of wine. 

“This suggests that this is a promising intervention for decreasing alcohol consumption across populations, which merits consideration as part of alcohol licensing regulations,” the study reported.

“Removing the largest serving size of wine by the glass in 21 licensed premises reduced the volume of wine sold, in keeping with the wealth of research showing smaller serving sizes reduce how much we eat. This could become a novel intervention to improve population health by reducing how much we drink,” added the study’s lead author, Prof. Dame Theresa Marteau.

The impact of glass size on alcohol consumption isn’t just limited to bars, restaurants and pubs. In fact, the growing size of average wine glasses has generated more drinking in public and in the privacy of homes. The phenomenon is also far from new.

In 1700, for example, the average wine glass was miniscule compared to modern versions. It averaged 66.66 milliliters or just a hair over two ounces or a little more than a shot glass. Since then, research reports that the average wine glass size has increased more than seven-fold to 449 milliliters or more than 15 ounces.

Earlier studies have suggested that having bigger glasses around has encouraged people to pour more heavily and drink more wine and alcohol—leading the Cambridge researchers to now suggest that embracing smaller goblets is a wise and healthy move for all.





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