If a bottle of wine opened in the evening seems to magically always disappear, there could be a reason.
When a glass of wine is in front of them, many people underestimate how much wine it actually contains, new research suggests.
It could explain why the measures served at home are often larger than those served at bars and restaurants, and why people often over-indulge at Christmas parties.
Almost three-quarters of adults underestimate the amount of wine in a 250ml glass, according to a survey by Direct Line Motor Insurance.
How many units are in these two glasses? Only 15 per cent guessed right for wine, whereas 23 per cent knew the answer for gin. SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM FOR ANSWERS
Shown the large glass, containing a third of a bottle, 70 per cent believed it was a medium or small glass.
When shown a serving of gin in a glass, just 22 per cent correctly identified a double measure.
Some 59 per cent of people asked believed the double measure to be only a single measure.
Responding to a survey of 2,000 people, Andrew Misell, from Alcohol Change UK, said: ‘We’ve seen a big shift in drinking habits in recent years with more and more of us drinking at home.
‘But, as this study has shown, many people are unsure of the size of the drinks they pour themselves, and often underestimate how much they’re having.
‘This can lead to them drinking more than they intended without realizing.
‘If you’re drinking at home, it’s smart to get into the habit of checking the units in your drinks, keeping a running tally, and staying under 14 units a week.’
DrinkAware, the national charity working to prevent alcohol misuse, advises people to ‘take the guesswork out of pouring’ by getting an alcohol measuring cup, or using ordinary kitchen scales.
Earlier this year, Professor Julia Sinclair, chair of the addictions faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, warned millions of Britons are causing themselves ‘silent harm’ through drinking too much.
People drink at home, failing to keep track of how much they are consuming, and encouraging each other to have more, she said.
The new research from Direct Line found almost 40 per cent of drinkers never check how much alcohol they pour at home.
Only 15 per cent correctly identified that a large glass of wine contained 3.2 units of alcohol, with almost a third element and the rest opting for 2.4 or 2.8 units.
The NHS advice is for men and women not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge have previously found people can be nudged into drinking less wine at home using 50cl bottles instead of the standard 70cl size.
Responding to the new research, Professor Dame Theresa Marteau, director of the Behavior and Health Research Unit at the University of Cambridge, said: ‘We know that wine glasses have almost doubled in size since the 1990s.
‘So one of the most effective ways of countering our well-known inability to judge portion sizes of drinks and food is to use smaller glasses and plates.’
Dr Emily Finch, chair of the Addictions Faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: ‘During the pandemic we saw a rise in alcohol consumption – some people who never drank, except for when they went out, began to drink at home, often for longer and without realizing just how much they were consuming.
‘Some of these will end up drinking at problematic levels.
‘Worryingly, not only are people trying to overcome home drinking habits, formed during the pandemic, they are now facing a cost-of-living crisis which has potential risks again in some circumstances for increased home drinking.’
ANSWER. Wine: 3.2 units, Gin: 1.8 units.
DO YOU DRINK TOO MUCH ALCOHOL? THE 10 QUESTIONS THAT REVEAL YOUR RISK
One screening tool used widely by medical professionals is the AUDIT (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Tests). Developed in collaboration with the World Health Organization, the 10-question test is considered to be the gold standard in helping to determine if someone has alcohol abuse problems.
The test has been reproduced here with permission from the WHO.
To complete it, answer each question and note down the corresponding score.
0-7: You are within the sensible drinking range and have a low risk of alcohol-related problems.
Over 8: Indicates harmful or hazardous drinking.
8-15: Medium level of risk. Drinking at your current level puts you at risk of developing problems with your health and life in general, such as work and relationships. Consider cutting down (see below for tips).
16-19: Higher risk of complications from alcohol. Cutting back on your own may be difficult at this level, as you may be dependent, so you may need professional help from your GP and/or a counselor.
20 and over: Possible dependence. Your drinking is already causing you problems, and you could very well be dependent. You should definitely consider stopping gradually or at least reduce your drinking. You should seek professional help to determine the level of your dependence and the safest way to withdraw from alcohol.
Severe dependence may need medically assisted withdrawal, or detox, in a hospital or a specialist clinic. This is due to the likelihood of severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms in the first 48 hours requiring specialist treatment.