Are You Drinking More Wine Than You Think?

Medically reviewed in January 2021

If you’re partial to pouring yourself a glass of wine after work, be extra careful. You might actually be drinking more than you think, which could result in an unexpected hangover the next morning -- or even certain health problems.

Most people think of a glass of wine as just one serving, but depending on the size, shape and location of your wine glass, it could be closer to two -- or even three! A small study of 73 participants published in the September 2013 edition of the journal of Substance Use and Misuse found that people tend to over-pour vino if their glass is wide, or if they are holding the glass in their hand instead of placing it on a table. The color of the wine matters, too. People filled a clear glass with a larger serving of white wine than red wine.

The reason is simple: People can’t gauge volume very well. They tend to notice vertical measurements more than horizontal ones. And color contrast catches the eye, too. Pouring a dark wine into a narrow glass resting on a table makes the glass appear more full, and that means you drink less.

Pouring Over Proper Serving Size
For men, moderate drinking is two drinks a day, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That means two 5-ounce glasses of wine, or if you prefer the hard stuff, two 1.5-ounce glasses of 80 proof liquor.

Why Too Much Isn’t a Good Thing
The next time you uncork that bottle of Pinot, know this: While moderate drinking has been shown to provide numerous health benefits, overindulging has its drawbacks.

  • It can short-circuit your sex life. As the amount of alcohol in the blood increases, it depresses the brain’s ability to sense sexual stimulation. It can also suppress testosterone production.
  • It can hurt your heart. Overdoing it will eventually lead to hardening of the arteries, high blood pressure and heart disease.
  • It can make you fat. Don’t forget: Alcohol is full of calories -- about 100 per serving of wine -- which in excess can lead to obesity and an increased risk for diabetes. 

So, the next time you pour yourself some wine, choose your glass wisely. Otherwise, you could end up with more alcohol than you wanted, and potentially a pretty painful headache the next morning.

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