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Posted: Friday, 15 December 2017 16:08

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Study: Size of the Wineglass Does Matter

Dec 15: It is an established fact that the taste and aroma profiles of wine improve with the size of the wineglass but the larger wine glasses also increase the pleasure of drinking, which may in turn increase the inclination to drink more, according to a Study conducted by researchers at the University of Cambridge and published Wednesday in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), noting 7-fold increase in glass capacity during the last 300 years, but the increase in size should not matter if one is aware that the health benefits from wine are based on a maximum of 2 glasses with 125 mL and 12.5% alcohol and beyond that alcohol harms your system, opines Subhash Arora

I was recently at a party where there were many beer and whisky drinkers who were polite enough to hold a glass of Fratelli Sette in my presence. The glass could hold practically only 150 mL and there was no chance of swirling. Therefore, one glass of wine and back to whisky or beer! The next day I discovered that the hotel did pour in proper glasses with bigger bowl and capacity of around 350-400 mL, as well. Quantity served being the same- 125-150 mL, and a bit of swirling and swishing that I advised, made a couple of people come back to me and affirm they had enjoyed the wine more. In fact, one person decided to stick with wine throughout the evening.

It is no rocket science to understand that a quality Indian wine like Sette also needs 30-60 minutes of decanting failing which, or even despite it, wine gets better in the glass due to breathing. When the wine tastes good and gives you a real pleasure, beyond giving you the ‘medical benefits’ most Indian doctors agree upon, there is always a chance that once can go overboard in filling up the oversize glass a wee bit too much, resulting in more alcohol intake and the consequent harm.

A study based on historical evidence from 1700’s suggests that, if the size of wine glasses is any guide, the British capacity to imbibe has soared 7 times since 1700, especially in the past couple of decades. The Study reported in theBritish Medical Journal (BMJ) focuses on the size but wonders if the consumption has gone up with the bigger glasses. The standard measurement of a pour has gone up from 125 mL a couple of decades ago to 250 mL a glass. In India, where I recommend 125 mL pour in order to  make it slightly cheaper due to high costs and/ or enabling the consumer enjoy a couple of different wined and still keeping the alcohol intake and wine spend under check, the standard pour has now become 150 mL.

Adverse effects due to excessive alcohol are well documented; it’s the fifth largest risk factor for premature mortality and disability in high income countries and the seventh largest worldwide. The amount and form of alcohol consumption in England has fluctuated over the past 300 years, largely in response to economic, legislative, and social factors. Until the later part of 20th century, beer and spirits were more common since wine was for the rich only. Alcohol consumption in general started to increase then, and wine consumption rose almost four-fold during 1960-80, almost doubling again during 1980-2004, according to the Report. Classical estimates within each source suggested that wine glass capacity increased in all time periods from 1800 to 2017.

Increased drinking of alcohol since the mid-20th century reflects greater affordability, availability, and marketing of alcohol products; and more liberal licensing and may have led supermarkets to compete to sell more. Environmental guidance such as the size and design of drinking glasses, may also have contributed to increased drinking, especially wine.

According to New York Times, two changes in the 20th century probably helped to increase glass sizes further,” the Cambridge study said. “Wine glasses started to be tailored in shape and size for different wine varieties, both reflecting and contributing to a burgeoning market for wine appreciation, where larger glasses were considered important.”

The Study also notes that larger tableware is known to increase food consumption. With plate sizes increasing over the past 100 years might have contributed to the prevalence of obesity and overweight. But less is known about glassware’s relation to how much we drink. Studying wine glasses’ capacity over time is an initial step in considering whether any changes in their size may have contributed to the steep rise in wine drinking seen in the past few decades. The researchers are also studying the corollary- whether reducing wine glass size may help cut consumption.

Subhash Arora

We do not find any reason for the fuss. It is clear that the marketers of wine are trying to be greedy. Otherwise a standard pour, say 125 mL should be itched on the glass subtly, indicating the standard level of pour. In that case there would be no complaint from the novices-editor

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