Size Does Matter When It Comes to Wine Consumption

Wednesday, 08 June 2016

A new study has suggested that drinking wine from a larger glass causes people to drink more, even when the amount of wine severed in a smaller glass is the same.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge say that larger glasses could encourage drinkers to swallow their wine faster and make them more likely to order another glass. Interestingly, they noticed the opposite effect wasn’t prevalent when the same quantity of wine was served in a smaller glass.

The study, published in the BMC Public Health journal and funded by the Department of Health, explains how staff at well-known Cambridge bar and restaurant The Pint Shop swapped the size of their wine glasses every two weeks.

Over a period of 16 weeks last year, the establishment alternated between smaller 250ml glasses, the standard 300ml glasses and the larger 370ml versions.

The data collected revealed that the volume of wine bought was almost 10 percent higher when drank in the larger glasses in comparison to the standard sized ones.

This effect was chiefly driven by sales in the bar, which witnessed a 14.4 percent increase, whereas sales in the restaurant saw and 8.2 percent increase.

Since the findings were released, it has been suggested that in the future, maximum glass sizes could become a condition of alcohol licences.

Recently, the unit published a review that found larger tableware led to a rise in food and non-alcoholic drink consumption, but no findings were recorded in relation to alcohol consumption.

Lead author of the study, Dr Rachel Pechey, said they found that increasing the size of wine glasses causes people to drink more, even if the volume of wine isn’t increased. She said the cause of this isn’t obvious, but the reason could be that bigger glasses change our perceptions about the amount of wine, which leads us to order more and drink at a faster rate.

Dr Pechey said it was interesting that swapping to the smaller wine glasses didn’t cause the opposite effect.

At the moment, alcohol consumption is ranked 5th among the 20 biggest risk factors for the burden of global disease. It is associated in particular with conditions such as cancer, liver disease and type 2 diabetes.

Well-known factors that affect the volume of alcohol consumption include marketing and price. In the UK, wine can be bought by the bottle (the standard volume is 750ml) or by the glass (typically with a set portion of 125ml or 250ml). Experts suspect that patterns of consumption could change depending on whether wine is bought by the glass or the bottle.

According to the director of Cambridge’s Behaviour and Health Research Unit, Professor Theresa Marteau, this research shows that avoiding the bigger wine glasses could reduce people’s alcohol consumption.

In January, experts from the government turned conventional wine wisdom about health benefits on its head by saying that it’s bad for people’s health. Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies encouraged women to consider the link between wine and breast cancer.