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This One Restaurant Trick Makes You Drink More Wine, New Study Says

A heads-up on this subtle strategy can help you avoid over-spending (and maybe also a hangover).

Getting back out to your favorite restaurants is exciting… but before you take a seat and relax with a good glass of wine, a study has revealed one subtle strategy some restaurants use to keep you drinking (and spending).

Get ready to say When. Shortly before the start of the pandemic, the University of Cambridge conducted a study funded by the U.K.'s National Institute of Health Research (NIHR). Recognizing that alcohol is the fifth-largest factor leading to early death in high income countries and the seventh world-wide, and that wine glass size has doubled in the U.K. since 1990, the researchers noted that one realm where it may be possible to regulate how much individuals drink is in restaurants.

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The research team performed a meta-analysis using data they'd collected since 2015. Their discovery was that when a dining establishment served wine in 12.5-ounce glasses, wine sales increased by 7.3%. Conversely, serving in an eight-ounce glass caused wine sales to plummet by 9.6%.

Note the study looked at the glass capacities but didn't seem to specify how full the wine glasses got. It seems from a perception standpoint, this is exactly part of the trick. Many restaurants consider a five-ounce or eight-ounce pour to be standard. (At some restaurants, you even get a choice between the two.) In a smaller glass, a five- or eight-ounce pour would make the glass look fuller, while a significantly larger bowl of the glass naturally makes the glass appear more empty. This can deliver the perception of a modest pour inside the glass, which may encourage the consumer to invite the server to keep it coming.

Professor Ashley Adamson, Director of the NIHR School of Public Health Research, commented: "We all like to think we're immune to subtle influences on our behaviour—like the size of a wine glass—but research like this clearly shows we're not … This important work helps us understand how the small, everyday details of our lives affect our behaviors and so our health." Adamson added, "Evidence like this can shape policies that would make it easier for everyone to be a bit healthier without even having to think about it."

It's a fleeting choice when the server is standing over your table—but if they give you the option between wine serving sizes, this may be a good reason to make the conscious choice and opt for the smaller one.

Also don't miss what new data shows is the country that drinks the most wine.

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Krissy Gasbarre
Krissy is a senior news editor at Eat This, Not That!, managing morning and weekend news related to nutrition, wellness, restaurants and groceries (with a focus on beverages), and more. Read more about Krissy