Wine glasses grow seven times larger over 300 years

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Their article in the Christmas issue of The British Medical Journal (The BMJ) says that the capacity of wine glasses in England has increased nearly sevenfold in the past 300 years, with a particularly steep rise since the 1990s.

Marteau and colleagues looked at wine glass capacity over time to help understand whether any changes in their size might have contributed to the steep rise in its consumption over the past few decades.

A rise that just so happens to coincide with a surge in wine consumption.

"Wine glass capacity increased from 66 ml (2.2 ounces) in the 1700s to 417 ml (14 ounces) in the 2000s, and the mean wine glass size in 2016-17 was 449 ml (15 ounces)", they wrote.

Wine glasses grow seven times larger over 300 years
Wine glasses grow seven times larger over 300 years

The researchers said pricing wine according to glass size could reduce how much people drink - but predicted this step would be more popular in January than over the festive season.

Using online searches and experts in antique glassware, they measured 411 types of wine glass dating from 1700 to the present day.

These changes in production are reflected in the data, which show the smallest wine glasses during the 1700s with no increases in glass size during that time-period - the increase in size beginning in the 19th century.

Alcohol is the fifth largest risk factor for premature mortality and disability in high income countries.

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"Our findings suggest that the capacity of wine glasses in England increased significantly over the past 300 years", said Zupan.

"Since the 1990s, the size has increased rapidly". Until the 1970s, wine was largely a drink of social elites.

Researchers argue that introducing new policy options, such as reducing the size of wine glasses in licensed premises, could reduce our alcohol consumption across the nation. That is the equivalent of six 175ml glasses of 13% wine.

It's the pubs' and bars' equivalent of supermarkets putting candies by the checkout.

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Sources included the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology at the University of Oxford, wine glasses of The Royal Household, eBay, Dartington Crystal, and the department store John Lewis. We drank most of our alcohol as beer in the pub, now we drink much of it as wine at home.

In the 1930s and 1940s fortified wines were popular but wine took off when package holidays introduced Britons to exotic European tastes and law changes allowed United Kingdom supermarkets to compete in the sector.

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"Wine consumption has increased enormously while beer sales have halved".

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The Wine and Spirits Trade Association said sociological trends were probably part of the reason for the growing wine glasses. But they suggest that along with lower prices, increased availability and marketing, "larger wine glasses may have contributed to this rise through several potentially co-occurring mechanisms". "Red wine, for example, is served in a larger glass to allow it to breathe, something which perhaps wasn't a priority 300 years ago".

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