When Is A Glass of Wine Not A Glass of Wine?

While most people think of a glass of wine as one serving, it could be closer to two or three. How much one pours is influenced by such environmental factors as the size, shape and color of the wine glass, researchers at Iowa State and Cornell universities report, and that could have serious consequences when it comes to overconsumption.

In the study, published in Substance Use and Misuse, participants were asked to pour what they considered a normal drink using different types of glasses in various settings. Participants poured about 12 percent more wine into a wide glass than a standard one. The same was true when holding a glass while pouring compared with placing the glass on a table.

In an article in The Cornell Chronicle, researchers explained that human perception has a great deal to do with pouring behavior. “People have trouble assessing volumes,” said lead author Laura Smarandescu, an assistant professor of marketing at Iowa State, who worked in collaboration with Brian Wansink, director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell. “They tend to focus more on the vertical than the horizontal measures. That’s why people tend to drink less when they drink from a narrow glass, because they think they’re drinking more.”

Researchers tested six environmental cues to understand how each influenced the amount poured. The contrast between the glass and color of the wine also made a significant difference. For example, when pouring white wine into a clear glass, participants poured 9 percent more than when pouring red, which had a greater contrast to the glass.

“If you want to pour and drink less wine, stick to the red wine glasses and only pour if your glass is on the table or counter and not in your hand – in either case you’ll pour about 9-12 percent less,” Wansink of Cornell said.

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