Wine glasses are seven times bigger than they used to be

Mark Willingham Uncategorized

Wine glasses are seven times bigger than they used to be


By Alana House

February 19, 2020

Does it feel like you’re only pouring a splash of vino into wine glasses to comply with standard drink requirements?

There’s a surprising reason for that.

The size of wine glasses has increased seven-fold over the past 300 years according to research from the University of Cambridge.

The increase in glass size coincides with wine consumption rising almost four-fold between 1960 and 1980, and almost doubling again between 1980 and 2004.

“Wine glasses became a common receptacle from which wine was drunk around 1700,” said study author Dr Zorana Zupan.

“This followed the development of lead crystal glassware by George Ravenscroft in the late 17th century, which led to the manufacture of less fragile and larger glasses than was previously possible.”

Through a combination of online searches and discussions with experts in antique glassware, including museum curators, the researchers obtained measurements of 411 glasses from 1700 to modern day. They found that wine glass capacity increased from 66 ml in the 1700s to 417ml in the 2000s, with the mean wine glass size in 2016-17 being 449ml.

“A wine glass 300 years ago would only have held about a half of today’s small measure,” Dr Zupan said.

The strength of wine has also increased since the 1990s.

Increases in the size of wine glasses over time likely reflect changes in a number of factors including price, technology, societal wealth and wine appreciation. The ‘Glass Excise’ tax, levied in the mid-18th century, led to the manufacture of smaller glass products.

This tax was abolished in 1845, and in the late Victorian era glass production began to shift from more traditional mouth-blowing techniques to more automated processes. 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.

Two changes in the 20th century likely contributed further to increased glass sizes. Wine glasses started to be tailored in both shape and size for different wine varieties, both reflecting and contributing to a burgeoning market for wine appreciation, with larger glasses considered important in such appreciation.

From 1990 onwards, demand for larger wine glasses by the US market was met by an increase in the size of glasses manufactured in England, where a ready market was also found.

A further influence on wine glass size may have come both from those running bars and restaurants, as well as their consumers.

Studies show that sales of wine increase when its sold in larger glasses and this may have incentivised vendors to use larger glasses. Larger wine glasses can also increase the pleasure from drinking wine, which may also increase the desire to drink more.