When is a glass of wine not a glass of wine?

I was poking around BBC News and came across this article: Doctors slam ‘supersized’ drinks.  Per the title, I had thought the article dealt with the enormous soda cups, where a “small” is a miniature bucket, like the one I bought last week at the cinema–it was huge!  I couldn’t finish it all!

Actually, the article didn’t deal with soda, but rather the increasing trend of pubs and bars in the UK of offering larger glasses as the standard size for wine, and adding more liquor into mixed drinks than previously.  In the article, it explains “[t]he 125ml wine glass used to be the standard size but now just 16% of pubs and bars say it is their normal size.  Some 73% say 175ml is the new “standard” and 250ml the large.”

On one hand, you have the industry leaders professing they’re merely offering “value,” but the article states that 250 ml is equivalent to a third of a bottle of wine, which is a large amount in one sitting on its own for me, being the One Drink Wonder.  Couple that with two or three more glasses, and you have someone drinking at least a whole bottle on their own in only a few (huge) glasses and may not even realise it, counting glasses rather than the liquid amount.

Greg Mulholland, a Liberal Democrat, is proposing a bill in the House of Commons to standardise the 125 ml as “a glass,” and to make all restaurants, bars and pubs carry the size.  In this situation, I think that the restaurants can go ahead and offer the larger sizes for their customers should they so choose, provided the customers are well-informed.  In this earlier article on the wine glasses, I like the proposal that a reader by the name of Eddie in Edinburgh proposed:

I don’t like the idea of force, or compulsion. It might be a better idea to change the labelling, so instead of 250ml, it says Approx 3 Units – assuming a reasonable norm of about 12% by volume. I’ve noticed increasingly that more alcoholic beverages purchased in shops are doing this, maybe we could extend it to all drinks in pubs – how many units are in that pint you just quaffed…

Upon reading the rest of the reader comments, it was interesting to see a good many people support the legislation, whereas many others opposed it, likening the action to be that of a “Nanny State,” and telling people to “grow up” and the government to “stop dictating us.”

I can’t help but draw similarities to the wine consumption sizing issue to that of the sizing issues we have in the United States with food.  It’s well-known that portions have gotten larger in many restaurants, especially those national and regional chains, and there have been dietitians who have pointed out that the more on the plate, the more we eat.  It may also be true for alcohol for people; I know it’s true for me when I’m unable to measure the amount of, say, beer I’m drinking because rather than the standard bottles, I’m drinking from a large 1.5 litre bottle of La Chouffe.

Although I’m unsure if a blanket decree is in order for Britain’s wine glasses, I think it would be helpful, as suggested, to indicate the amount of units a patron would be drinking, and also to provide smaller glasses for those interested in merely whetting their whistle.


4 thoughts on “When is a glass of wine not a glass of wine?

  1. Pingback: Wine Tasting & Reviews - Tasting Notes & Reviews of Wines

  2. The two links to the BBC articles worked on my end, despite being a year old. I guess you mean the earlier trackback?

    Still interesting how this continues to be an issue of discussion.

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