The standard pour for a glass of wine is five ounces, or 150 milliliters.
That’s the number the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uses.
It’s also typically the one bars and restaurants use when they serve you a glass of vino with dinner.
But when you’re home and left to your own devices, the pours may tip a bit taller than any official standard.
And that may be because the wine glass you’re using just keeps getting bigger.
A new study from researchers at England’s University of Cambridge reveals that the average wine glass has grown sevenfold in the past 300 years.
For this research, the scientists combed museum archives, antique collections on eBay, the Royal Household’s historic collections, and a glassware manufacturer’s records to get a measure of shifting sizes over the past few centuries.
The average glass in 1700 held 66 milliliters (ml) of wine, or a little over two ounces. That’s just barely bigger than today’s typical shot glass, which holds 1.5 ounces.
In 2017, the average wine glass in England holds 449 ml, or more than 15 ounces.
Glass size and alcohol consumption
A sharp rise in alcohol consumption began in the 1960s when alcohol became more available, more affordable, and more widely marketed.
Alcohol consumption increased fourfold from 1960 to 1980. That number doubled again between 1980 and 2004, the study said.
But which came first: the larger glasses or the heavier drinking?
The researchers aren’t ready to lay the blame squarely on the stemware.
The study’s authors say they can’t say that the increase in wine glass size and the increase in wine consumption in England are linked.
The greater availability and increased marketing could certainly have a say in the numbers, but they added that “larger wine glasses may have contributed to this rise through several potential co-occurring mechanisms.”
While the study analyzed wine consumption and glass sizes in England, the same story could likely be written for barware in the United States, too.
In fact, the researchers pointed out that the growth in wine glasses in Britain was due in part to demand for larger wine glasses by the U.S. market.
Manufacturers expanded their size options to fulfill demand from Americans, and British companies followed suit.
The impact of ‘oversized’ drinking
This supersizing of stemware just happens to coincide with a growth in drinking habits and drinking-related chronic diseases.
According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, alcohol misuse was the fifth leading risk factor for premature death and disability globally in 2010.
The World Health Organization reports that more than 5 percent of disease and injury worldwide is attributable to alcohol.
“Wine — or alcohol consumption — has long been associated with health benefits including its association with reduced heart disease,” said Dr. Adrienne Youdim, FACP, an associate clinical professor of medicine at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) David Geffen School of Medicine, Cedars Sinai Medical Center. “However, alcohol risks appear to outweigh the benefits, particularly as portion sizes increase. The bottom line, bigger is not better.”
Alcohol use is also an established risk factor for several types of cancer, including colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, liver cancer, and esophageal cancer.
“At a time when heavy drinking is one of the biggest public health crises in the world, this study provides important evidence that the notable increase in glass size in recent years — along with other important factors, such as lower cost and easier access — may have a role to play in the remarkable, recent increase of wine consumption, especially among younger women here in the United States,” said Dr. Lauren Wolfe, a clinical psychologist and the chief clinical officer at Annum Health.
What’s more, alcohol’s impact on the waistline may go underreported as a potential weight-gain culprit.
For example, millennials are responsible for consuming 42 percent of all wine in the United States, the most of any age group.
A study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine says those habits may have an unfortunate payoff down the road.
The researchers found that regular heavy drinking episodes in young adulthood were associated with a higher risk for weight gain and obesity.
“There are a variety of issues here, not the least of which is the increase in the amount of calories consumed,” Sherry Coleman Collins, MS, RDN, LD, told Healthline. “When we drink caloric beverages of any type, those calories don’t register fullness in our brain the same way that solid foods do, and alcohol has the added impact of reducing inhibitions.”
What that amounts to, Collins says, is consuming more calories from drinking than you realize.
“The more you drink, the less you care about the calories you consume,” she said.
3 ways to shrink your drink
“Tracking your drinking is a really important first step to take,” Wolfe told Healthline. “When the CDC recommends people have no more than one or two drinks a day, one drink actually means something very specific — a standard drink, which for wine is a five-ounce pour.”
You could pour five ounces of wine into a measuring cup before pouring into your glass, but these tricks will help you rightsize your pours sans kitchen utensils.
Buy smaller bottles of wine
If you’re a “drink until the bottle is empty” connoisseur, it’s time to short yourself the extra pours.
A 750-ml bottle holds roughly five five-ounce pours.
However, many grocery stores and specialty chains now offer smaller bottles. Options with 375 ml and 187 ml can help you cut down on the number of glasses you’re serving yourself.
They can also save you money and help prevent wine waste.
Use smaller glasses
Play a trick on your brain by shrinking your stemware.
A standard five-ounce pour can look paltry in a mega glass. Opt for smaller glasses and your five ounces may look pleasing instead of pitiful.
Drink water in between
Slow your pace by drinking a glass of water between each glass of wine.
Not only will the water fill you up — which may prevent several refills — you’ll cut your consumption, too.