Glugging wine too fast can be caused by a few things, from unconscious nervousness to a conscious attempt to make your family meal seem more bearable. But according to new research, larger wine glasses also make people down their wine significantly faster. It might seem obvious, but there's some science behind it all.
Psychologists from the University of Cambridge and the University of Bristol headed down to a restaurant with a bar in Cambridge, UK, to see if glass size had an effect on drinker’s guzzling habits.
Over 16 weeks, the venue alternated their wine glasses between the standard (300 milliliters) size, and the larger (370 milliliters) and smaller (250 milliliters) glasses. Overall, they found that sales of wine went up 9.4 percent when sold in larger glasses compared to standard-sized glasses, suggesting people drank more when they had a bigger glass.
The bar area of the restaurant was particularly affected by this changing of the glass, since they saw a 14.4 percent rise in sales when they had larger glasses, compared to an 8.2 percent increase in sales in the restaurant itself. However, the researchers barely noticed a difference between small- and standard-sized glasses on sales.
"We found that increasing the size of wine glasses, even without increasing the amount of wine, leads people to drink more," said Dr. Rachel Pechey from the Behavior and Health Research Unit at Cambridge in a statement. "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."
The study was funded by the Department of Health in an attempt to better understand our drinking habits. After all, alcohol remains one of the leading risk factors associated with liver disease, type-2 diabetes, and cancer. The researchers suggest that the findings could go towards guiding alcohol licensing requirements, such as reducing the legal measurements of glass sizes to help people to drink less.
Marcus Munafò, professor of biological psychology at Bristol University, added: "We've previously found that people may drink beer faster from curved glasses than from straight glasses. This study provides more evidence that glass shape may influence how much we drink."