Have wine glasses in England got bigger?

Permission to display this image on the BHRU website was granted: 12/12/17

Alcohol consumption in England has increased over time, particularly for wine. In a previous study, we found that wine sales in a bar and restaurant increased by almost 10% when wine was served in a larger glass (Pechey et al., 2016 and Pechey et al., 2017). In our new study, published in the BMJ Christmas issue, we examined whether wine glasses in England have increased in size over time, one of several possible influences upon increasing wine consumption in England.

We recorded the capacity of wine glasses obtained from five sources: a museum, a working palace, a glassware manufacturer, an online selling platform, and a department store website. We found that wine glass capacity increased from an average of 66 ml in the 1700s to 417ml in the 2000s, with the average wine glass capacity in 2016-17 being 449 ml. This increase was gradual until the 1990s, when wine glass capacity started to increase steeply.

Increases in wine glass size over time may reflect changes in several factors including price, technology, societal wealth, and wine appreciation. We cannot infer that the increase in glass size and the rise in wine consumption in England are causally linked. Nor can we infer with certainty that reducing the size of wine glasses would cut drinking. Our observation of increasing size does, however, draw attention to wine glass size as an area to investigate further in the context of reducing alcohol consumption to improve population health.

To read the press release in full click here.

Wine glass size in England from 1700 to 2017: A measure of our time.  Zupan, Z., Evans, A., Couturier, D.L., Marteau, T.M.

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