Size matters

Size matters

How we consume beer, wine and other beverages depends on the shape and size of the glass.

Most of us assume that the type of glasses we drink from does not affect how much we drink. In fact, there is a large body of research that shows that the shape and size of a glass has a huge impact on how quickly we drink beer, wine, and other beverages, and ultimately how much we drink.

Which glasses are emptied faster?

One of my favorite studies from the University of Bristol has shown a very important result, which I recommend taking a closer look at establishments offering beer to guests. It showed that we drink beer almost 60% slower from straight-shaped beer glasses than from conical glasses. And this directly affects how many glasses of beer a guest drinks in the bar - the faster the consumption takes place, the more repeat orders and the higher the average bill. And vice versa.

The difference in consumption rate is due to the difficulty of assessing the middle of the glass in a tapering shape. You have to understand that beer is easy to drink, a guest can drink a lot of it, and he knows about it, so he tries to limit himself whenever possible. The guest is always happy and easy to drink the first half of the glass, and after the conditional middle, he slows down and drinks the remaining volume a little at a time, stretching the process over time. The trick is that those who drink from glasses with a narrow bottom simply have a wrong idea of ​​how much they have already drunk and how much is left, so they cannot stop, as it were, in the middle of the glass to play for time. They continue to drink without seeing the middle and the beer for them always ends unexpectedly quickly. A skilled bartender and an attentive waiter will always notice this fact and offer to repeat it in time. And so it will be repeated over and over again due to the peculiarities of visual perception.

Short and wide, tall and thin

Another interesting study that I like to use in my work was measuring the influence of the width and height of the glass on the volume of consumption: we drink more drink from short wide glasses compared to tall narrow glasses. Moreover, the effect is most pronounced in children who drink by 74% more juice in a short wide glass glass. Adults are less responsive to the form, but their consumption also grows by as much as 19%. The reason, apparently, is the same problem in the estimation of volumes. This effect is called the vertical-horizontal illusion, which denotes a person's tendency to focus on height rather than width. When we pour into glasses, we tend to concentrate on the height of the drink and mostly ignore the width. This is why we think we have poured and, therefore, drank very little.

Even professional bartenders are prone to misperceptions when pouring the same volume in short-wide and long-narrow glasses. In one experiment, experienced bartenders were asked to pour the same amount of drink into glasses of different sizes and shapes. They poured an average of 27% more into short, wide glasses than into tall, narrow glasses. Therefore, experienced bartenders use measuring tanks, realizing that working "by eye" is at a loss.

With wine, size matters

Unlike beer, cocktails, and soft drinks, wine is usually served in a partially filled glass. At a bar at Cambridge, researchers measured alcohol consumption by changing the size of the glasses while maintaining a single volume of wine poured - 175 ml. The starting glass size was 300 ml, and then the size increased up to 375 ml. It was recorded that bar visitors drank an average of 14,4% more from large glasses. Why? Most likely, the reason for the higher consumption is due to the fact that in larger glasses the same volume is mistakenly perceived as smaller. It can also be affected by the fact that it is more difficult to assess the real volume in conditions when initially most of the glass is visually empty. And once you have drunk a little, it means you can repeat it.


The shape and size of the glass has a huge impact on the speed and volume of consumption:

  • The guest drinks 14% more wine from large glasses;
  • In a cone-shaped glass, beer is drunk 60% faster;
  • In a short and wide glass, children drink 74% more drinks, and adults 19% more.

So, before buying tableware, it is important to at least a little immerse yourself in the psychology of perception of shape and volume in order to buy not just glass, but to purchase a truly effective sales tool for the establishment.

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