Looking to cut down on the booze? Scientists have recently identified a simple trick that’s been proved to help drinkers cut down on their wine glugging. As simple as it sounds, the study found that sipping from smaller glasses can help people drink significantly less alcohol.
The new study was reported in the journal Addiction this week.
Researchers from the University of Cambridge and the University of Bristol gathered 260 households in the UK that consumed a moderate amount of alcohol, guzzling down at least two bottles of wine at home each week.
Over the span of two 14-day periods, they were asked to buy a pre-set amount of wine to drink at home in either the standard 75-centiliter or smaller 37.5-centiliter bottles. They were also given either smaller (290 milliliters) or larger (350 milliliters) glasses from which to drink in random order.
At the end of each two-week period, the researchers counted how much wine had been drunk. They found that smaller glasses reduced the amount of wine drunk by around 6.5 percent (253 milliliters in a two-week period) and drinking from smaller bottles reduced the amount of wine drunk by 3.6 percent (146 milliliters in two weeks).
The researchers write in their study that they didn’t aim to understand the mechanism behind this relationship. However, in all likelihood, it’s down to perception about how much you're drinking. Research has suggested that smaller food plates can help some people to eat less because it impacts your perception and, in turn, how hungry you feel. Perhaps a similar thing is going on when your necking glasses of wine.
The study authors also note “considerable uncertainty” about the effect of small glasses and bottles on wine consumption.
That said, the team has previously carried out a very similar study and reached a similar conclusion. In 2016, they looked at how wine glass size influenced the amount of wine people drank at a bar in the UK. In sum, 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.
If further data backs up this theory, the researchers say it could be used to influence public policy designed to slash alcohol use. For instance, governments and public health bodies could help to regulate glass size in bars and restaurants to encourage drinking less and shift social norms about the “standard size” of a drink.