Wine glasses through the years
Wine glasses from the early 17th century were far smaller than they are today. They were usually kept on the sideboard and brought by one’s butler when one wanted to make a toast. But as glass became less brittle, with the invention of lead crystal glass by George Ravenscroft in the late 17th century, glasses became more extravagant in their design. Wine glasses began to move to the table and, gradually, glass size started to increase.
This size increase of wine glasses parallels the explosion of the middle class associated with the industrial revolution. This new middle class created a huge wine market.
While wine glass size was already gradually rising, there was a sharp increase in the late 20th century. This is probably due to demand from the US market, and the promotion of larger wine glasses by bars to boost profits. A recent study showed that larger wine glasses have been associated with increased sales.
Humans consume in units: one cup of tea, one chocolate bar or one glass of wine. People tend to drink a glass of wine regardless of its volume, because they regard one glass as a whole unit. If someone perceives a glass as mostly empty, they are less likely to feel satisfied after drinking it than they would if they drank the same volume from a full, smaller glass. This means people may be more likely to have a second or third glass when they are drinking ‘unsatisfying’ portions from a large glass.