Could larger glasses encourage us to drink more wine?

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A new academic study has found that serving wine to customers in larger glasses could encourage them to consume more. Further research needs to be conducted into the effect of larger glasses, but in the future, we could see a change in regulations.

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Larger glasses increases consumption

The research was conducted by the Behaviour and Health Research Unit at Cambridge University, and took place across a 16 week period at a bar. At fortnightly intervals, the owners changed the size of the glasses that they used to serve wine, but the amount of wine remained the same across the different glasses. The researchers wanted to see if this had any effect on the amount that people consumed.

At the end of the study, the researchers found that nearly 10% more wine was sold when the bar used the larger glasses (370ml), compared with the standard glasses (250ml). The increase in sales was more acute in the bar area than the restaurant, with a 14.4% rise against 8.2% for the restaurant.

The research didn’t come to any precise conclusions as to why this is the case, but it could be because our perception on the amount that we’re actually consuming differs when we have larger glasses. This could cause us to drink more quickly and, therefore, order more wine, but the opposite effect didn’t happen when smaller glasses were used.

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The same unit at the university also published a recent study that showed a rise in food and non-alcoholic drink consumption when larger tableware was used.

Increase in wine glass size

The size of an average wine glass has steadily increased in the past 300 years, and it is now 500% larger – at 450ml compared to only 65ml. The biggest increase in wine glass sizes was seen in the 1990s.

As more pubs and bars sell food, consumers are becoming used to ordering wine when they’re out. Venues therefore need effective commercial warewashers, such as those available at, to help keep up with demand.

Before there are any changes made to alcohol licensing regulations in this country, it will be necessary to conduct further research into the effect of glass size on consumption. However, in the future, we could see limits placed on the size of glasses available, in order to curb excessive drinking.

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