3 Reasons to Scrap 250ml Glasses

3 reasons to scrap 250ml

How many glasses do you get from a bottle of wine? The standard answer used to be six, but in many pubs and bars in the UK nowadays, the answer is just three.

The large 250ml glass of wine has become a standard serving, often ordered at the same time as a pint or a gin and tonic, despite the huge differences in alcoholic content and, increasingly, price. The traditional round of drinks has become unbalanced.

Jamie Goode, writing an article for the campaigning website Wine Option, noted that a 250ml glass of 14% wine will contain 35ml of pure alcohol. A pint of 3.8% ale served alongside will contain 21.5ml, that’s nearly 40% less. Two or three rounds into the evening and the wine drinker in this scenario is already well into official binge drinking territory.

The reality is that while that wine drinker may think he or she has only had a few glasses of wine, they have actually consumed a whole bottle; not a very healthy situation.

As an industry, we need to wake up and start thinking about smaller pours and here are three very good reasons why:

1. Health

Responsibility is a big issue in the drinks industry at the moment and rightly so. The UK has a culture of alcohol use and misuse and there are grave consequences for the health of individuals and society as a whole.

As an industry we need to do our bit. We are absolutely right to maintain that alcohol enjoyed in moderation has its place in society and to fight back against the neo-prohibitionists, but it is pretty hard to do so when we insist that a third of a bottle is a standard measure of wine.

We need to change our behaviour before the government changes the way the consumer engages with wine, and finances the country’s budget deficit in the process. Minimum pricing is already on the horizon and there is no reason to think legislation could stop there.

2. Price & Quality

By sticking to the 175ml/250ml model, many on trade operators put a de facto limit on the quality of wine they can serve. There is a perception (probably a correct one) that no-one is going to order a £10 glass of wine alongside a £3.50 pint.

Too often, the result is that only cheaper wines are served by the glass to meet a pre-determined price point. This restricts choice and makes it harder for us as an industry to expose consumers to wines that are more exciting than just another identikit Sauvignon Blanc or Merlot.

If we pour 125ml as standard, we can sell brilliant wines by the glass at a reasonable price. The consumer would drink half the quantity of alcohol per glass and enjoy something that tastes brilliant and might just tempt them to come back another day.

In essence, we need to provide consumers with the opportunity to drink a sensible amount of something that truly excites the mind and palate, rather than just being accessories to the UK’s increasingly unacceptable culture of excess.

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3. Consumer Experience

Wine competes with beer, spirits and other beverages in every bar and restaurant around the country. Consumers have a choice about what they drink.

A goldfish bowl of entry-level Chardonnay that warms up quickly in a busy bar hardly contains the same excitement as a brilliantly mixed and garnished cocktail.

What wine has going for it is its endless diversity, and its culture. Wine goes better with food than any other drink and food is better shared. As an industry we need to harness this. Let’s turn that 250ml glass into a carafe for two. Or perhaps, three small 50ml measures in a wine flight that introduces a Pinot Grigio drinker to the delights of Albarino and Gruner Veltliner.

Gareth Groves
8th May 2012

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