For some, the holiday season goes hand-in-hand with drinking, and no beverage captures the wintry spirit more than red wine — well, maybe egg nog, but it’s gross. In any case, a new study finds wine glasses have grown substantially over the last 300 years in the UK — and a scientist tells Inverse why.
“Several factors likely lead people to drink more during the holidays in Western countries,” Theresa Marteau, Director of the Behaviour and Health Research Unit at the University of Cambridge, tells Inverse. “First, they socialize more at this time and second, the events at which they socialize often involve alcohol. Combined with a celebratory mood this can fuel alcohol consumption, as can the stresses associated with such socializing — including office parties and days spent with our families in confined spaces with an expectation of joy all round.”
But this most recent study — which Marteau serves as co-author on — investigated alcohol consumption far beyond the modern holiday season. By researching glassware both online and with the assistance of antique experts, the researchers measured 411 glasses from 1700 to the present. Wine glass capacity skyrocketed from 66 ml in the 18th century to 417 ml in the early 21st century. In fact, between 2016 and 2017, the average wine glass size was 449 ml. That’s a 531 percent over in 317 years; a lot more wine.The group’s research was published on Wednesday in the BMJ.
“Our findings suggest that the capacity of wine glasses in England increased significantly over the past 300 years,” the study’s lead author, Zorana Zupan of the University of Cambridge, said in a statement. “For the most part, this was gradual, but since the 1990s, the size has increased rapidly. Whether this led to the rise in wine consumption in England, we can’t say for certain, but a wine glass 300 years ago would only have held about a half of today’s small measure.”
A number of factors probably led to the growth of British wine glasses, including wine becoming cheaper and more accessible. Various social and economic changes within the country have led to not only bigger glasses, but stronger wine. Apparently, both glass size and wine potency have increased in the UK since the 1990s.
While nothing makes the season brighter than a little wine, just remember to pace yourselves, kids. The average glass can hold enough to get you pretty buzzed pretty fast.