Noticed that ‘just the one glass’ doesn’t feel like, well, just the one glass it used to?
You’ve blamed your age, but one glass of wine has made you feel a little tipsier than you reckon it should.
You’re not imagining things – glasses of wine are getting bigger. They’ve been increasing in size over the last 300 years, and most steeply in the last two decades – and researchers believe this growth may be to blame for our increasing wine consumption.
According to a new study published in the BMJ, the UK’s wine consumption quadrupled between 1960 and 1980, then doubled again between 1980 and 2004.
Researchers reckon that while cheaper prices, wider availability, and increased marketing likely play a role, the changes in wine glasses are significant too.
The study involved online searches and chats with experts in antique glassware to obtain measurements of 411 wine glasses from 1700 to modern day.
The researchers found that wine glass capacity increased from 66ml in the 1700s to 417ml in the 2000s (which is quite the jump), with the average wine glass in 2016/2018 holding 449ml.
A separate experiment carried out in Cambridge last year found that selling wine in larger glasses – even when the actual amount of wine in the glass remained the same – may encourage people to drink more. Researchers found that using larger glasses increases wine sales by about 10%. So that increase in glass size could be important.
Dr Zorana Zupan, first author of the glass size study, said: ‘Our findings suggest that the capacity of wine glasses in England increased significantly over the past 300 years.
‘For the most part, this was gradual, but since the 1990s, the size has increased rapidly.
‘Whether this led to the rise in wine consumption in England, we can’t say for certain, but a wine glass 300 years ago would only have held about a half of today’s small measure.
‘On top of this, we also have some evidence that suggests wine glass size itself influences consumption.’
Researchers argue that introducing new policy options, such as reducing the size of wine glasses in licensed premises, could reduce our alcohol consumption across the nation.
But, as it’s Christmas, they don’t expect any change to happen now. Dry January may be a better shout.
‘We predict – with moderate confidence – that, while there will be some resistance to these suggestions,’ say researchers, ‘their palatability will be greater in the month of January than that of December.’
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