Eric Risberg The Associated Press file
Eric Risberg The Associated Press file

World

Cheers! Wine glasses today are twice as big as in the 1990s, study finds

By Don Sweeney

dsweeney@sacbee.com

December 14, 2017 10:13 AM

Are wine glasses getting bigger?

Yes, according to a study in a British medical journal. The University of Cambridge report, published Wednesday in the BMJ, finds that wine glasses in England are on average seven times larger than those 300 years ago, with the steepest increases in size in the last two decades.

Wine glasses doubled in size between 1990 and today.

Wine glass capacity rose from 66 milliliters in the 1700s to 232 milliliters in 1993 and 449 milliliters (capable of holding more than half a 750 milliliter wine bottle) in 2017, the study says. But for those interested in going all-out, Amazon sells a 750-millileter wine glass, billed as a novelty item, for $16.67.

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“As we approach the culturally legitimised deviancy of festive drinking, we suggest that size does matter: look at the wine glass in your hand,” the study says.

Researchers also found a sharp rise in wine consumption in England – a fourfold jump from 1960 to 1980, followed by a nearly twofold increase from 1980 to 2004. Larger wine glasses may have contributed to the jump, but the BMJ report notes a connection can’t be conclusively proven.

“We speculate there are two main mechanisms: capacity – the larger a container, the more we pour into it, and perceptual – the same amount looks smaller in a larger container than a smaller one,” Theresa Marteau, who led the study, told the BBC. “Given we often regulate our consumption in units such as one slice of cake or one cup of coffee, if we perceive we have not had a full glass of wine, this might lead to us having another glass.”

Larger wine glasses and increased consumption do go hand-in-hand, wine writer Jancis Robinson told the BBC.

“Not just because it encourages people to drink more than they intended, but also because white and pink wines tend to warm up in them, encouraging people to finish their contents before they get too warm to be refreshing,” Robinson said.

But Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, told The Guardian that there are practical reasons for larger wine glasses.

“Red wine, for example, is served in a larger glass to allow it to breathe, something which perhaps wasn’t a priority 300 years ago,” Beale said.

Researchers collected data on wine glasses by examining antique glassware, contacting museum curators, measuring glassware used at Buckingham Palace and, for more modern sizes, online research on eBay and glassware catalogues.

Wine tasting can be overwhelming if you don't know what to look for. Jenna Congdon — a certified sommelier and wine director at The Station and Granada Hotel and Bistro in San Luis Obispo — takes us through the 5 S's of wine tasting.

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