Bigger Wine Glasses Are Encouraging Us To Drink More

Wine glasses have grown over in size by over 500% in the last 300 years.

We may not have noticed, but wine glasses have been steadily increasing in size for the past 300 years and as far as our health is concerned, that could be a bad thing.

Speaking to the Hay Festival, Professor Theresa Marteau from the University of Cambridge revealed that over the last three centuries, the average size of a wine glass has increased by well over 500%.

Regis Duvignau / Reuters

It stands to reason then that the larger the glass the more wine you’re likely to consume, thus leading to potentially dangerous levels of consumption.

300 years ago the average size for a wine glass was just 65ml, it is now 450ml.

According to Marteau, the 90s was a crucial period during which wine glass sizes grew exponentially.

Last year Marteau, Director of the Behaviour and Health Research Unit at the University of Cambridge, discovered another side-effect of the large glasses.

They found that people were more likely to order additional glasses of wine at a bar when they were presented with a large glass (370ml) instead of a standard glass (300ml).

What makes this really interesting though is that in each situation the same amount of wine was placed in the glass, suggesting that it was our perception of the glass and not the amount of alcohol we were consuming.

Over the course of a 16-week period, the researchers asked the owners of a bar to change the size of their wine glass at fortnightly intervals.

The researchers found that the volume of wine purchased daily was 9.4% higher when sold in larger glasses compared to standard-sized glasses.

Dr Rachel Pechey from the Behaviour and Health Research Unit at Cambridge commented on the findings saying, “It’s not obvious why this should be the case, but one reason may be that larger glasses change our perceptions of the amount of wine, leading us to drink faster and order more. But it’s interesting that we didn’t see the opposite effect when we switched to smaller wine glasses.”

Professor Marteau believes that this trait could allow us all to consume smaller, more manageable portions of both alcohol and food.