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Bigger wine glasses could make you drink more, quicker

Published: 07th June, 2016 at 00:00
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Wine-o-clock? Next time you fancy a large glass of wine, maybe you should think about using a smaller vessel.

After a long day at work you could be forgiven for stopping off for a cheeky glass of wine, right? But have you ever wondered whether the size of the glass you’re drinking from affects how much you actually drink? Researchers from the Behaviour and Health Research Unit (BHRU) at the University of Cambridge, along with Professor Marcus Munafo from the University of Bristol have recently put this to the test in a Cambridge pub, The Pint Shop.


Bar work

The pub, comprised of both a separate bar and restaurant area, normally offers wine for sale in either small (125ml) or large (175ml) servings in a standard (300ml) wine glass. Over a 16-week period from mid-March to early July in 2015 the researchers changed the size of the wine glasses every two weeks, alternating between small (250ml), standard (300ml), and large (370ml) glasses.

They discovered that the volume of wine purchased daily increased by 9.4% when sold in a large glass when compared to the regular standard size. There was also a reported increase (although perhaps less surprisingly) by 14.4% in sales at the bar area relative to an 8.2% increase in the restaurant.

The study, published in BMC Public Health, suggests that even though the volume of wine stayed the same, increasing the size of the glass it’s in causes people to drink more. “It's not obvious why this should be the case,” explains Dr Rachel Pechey, a researcher from the BHRU at Cambridge, “but one reason may be that larger glasses change our perceptions of the amount of wine, leading us to drink faster and order more”. Interestingly, switching from standard glasses to smaller ones didn’t appear to cause people to drink less.

Time, ladies and gentlemen!

This study offers potential insights for informing future alcohol licensing requirements as Director of the Unit, Professor Theresa Marteau adds: "Avoiding the use of larger wine glasses could reduce the amount that people drink. We need more research to confirm this effect, but if it is the case, then we will need to think how this might be implemented. For example, could it be an alcohol licensing requirements that all wine glasses have to be below a certain size?"

Of course, it doesn’t matter what glass size you use if you want to want to avoid a hangover


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