Think You've Only Had One Glass of Wine? Think Again.

You're out at a party. The host asks if you'd like a glass of wine.  You say yes, and stop at that, secure in the knowledge you've only had one and are perfectly fine to drive home.  But did you know that you could be drinking two, maybe three, servings in that one glass?

According to a story at, people have a hard time guessing the volume of liquids they pour.

"Just how much one pours is influenced by a variety of environmental factors, researchers at Iowa State and Cornell universities discovered, and that could have serious consequences when it comes to over-consumption," the Web site reports.

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

“People have trouble assessing volumes,” quotes Laura Smarandescu, an assistant professor of marketing at Iowa State. “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.”

The contrast between the glass and color of the wine also made a significant difference, the Web site notes. "For example, when pouring white wine into a clear glass, participants poured 9 percent more than pouring red, which had a greater contrast to the glass."

Wine is different from alcoholic drinks that are served in a bottle or measured with a shot glass, making it easy for individuals to over-pour, according to A standard serving of wine is five ounces, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. But Doug Walker, an assistant professor of marketing at Iowa State and lead author of the study, told that "it’s easy to lose track of how many drinks you’ve had, if you are pouring more than you realize."

“If you ask someone how much they drink and they report it in a number of servings, for a self-pour that’s just not telling the whole story. One person’s two is totally different than another person’s two,” Walker said. “Participants in the study were asked to pour the same amount at each setting, but they just couldn’t tell the difference.”

Why all the concern now on this?  For a while now, we've been focusing on meal portions because of our obesity epidemic. And that's so much easier.  The creation of 100-calorie packs and visual aids, like a deck of cards to measure 3 ounces of meat, make it easier to limit a serving size.

But the story is different with liquids, and alcohol.

“If you want to pour and drink less wine, stick to the narrow 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,” quotes Brian Wansink, director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell.


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