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Punch Drunk: Jack Ponders Massive Wine Orbs


Ever order wine at a restaurant and then had the server bring out glasses that look like they were made for André the Giant? It’s not at all uncommon now. Wine glasses — with or without stems — are freakin’ huge. Sometimes it’s like you’re drinking from a hollowed-out bowling ball. I’m not necessarily complaining. Many fine establishments will sell a wine by the glass in one of these boats, which almost always means great value. It also means that I’m tipsy off one and a half glasses of wine at 5 p.m. on a Tuesday at Outback. Again, not complaining.

Well, it turns out that our hands aren’t getting smaller. A Cambridge University study found that since the 18th century, wine glass size has risen a whopping 700 percent. Theresa Marteau, director of the behavior and health research unit at Cambridge, and her team looked at various wine glasses from the 18th century through today, and it was evident that wine glasses had gotten bigger. A lot bigger. “There has been a gradual increase in capacity from 65 milliliters to 450 milliliters,” Marteau said last month when speaking at England’s Hay Festival. For my American readers, that’s a jump of 2.2 ounces to 15.2 ounces. The biggest jump, Marteau says, occurred in the 1990s.

Presumably because everything went supersized in the ’90s, including the actual supersized McDonald’s meal. The ’90s also brought us JNCO jeans and monstrous Skechers boots. Those were dark times indeed.

Why do we need alcohol receptacles this huge? Is it simply a matter of style? Or are people drinking that much more?

Marteau seems to think they are, and that it’s the tableware’s fault. “If we made sizes smaller for all food tableware, for every occasion we encounter food the effects of size would be to reduce how much we consume by up to 16 percent in adults per day,” she says.

So smaller glasses and plates mean less drunkenness and obesity? It makes sense. If there’s food in front of me, I’ll consume it. Same goes with booze. Sort of like if there’s beer left in the mug, you must finish it — especially if someone is watching. Leaving an unemptied glass on a bar is not cool, according to my friends who are apparently still 22 years old.

One problem I encounter frequently — and this is definitely one of those First-World problems — is that friendly bartenders will make my mixed drinks in pint glasses, even if I order a simple bourbon and water. The premise here is that when the bartender uses a larger glass, I will in turn get more alcohol for the same price as a regular pour in a regular cocktail glass. Younger Jack loves this premise. Older Jack gets a slight headache after eating a meal with Jack Daniel’s barbecue sauce on it. Shout out to TGI Fridays! Less of a shout out to my aging body and its inability to process booze.

My point is, I want a rocks glass or a highball glass for my mixed drinks. Not a bathtub of liquor with a few ice cubes in it, although I appreciate the bartender’s attempt to hook me up. How about a free appetizer instead? I hear the Jack Daniel’s chicken wings are amazing.

Why am I so old and lame now?

Even though we already have enough to open a wine bar, my girlfriend bought us new wine glasses the other day. Keeping with the latest trend, they’re like giant, clear trash cans. They have to be at least 70,000 percent bigger than normal wine glasses. It appears that you can fit seven bottles of wine into each one. I put my head in one and pretended I was an astronaut.

The great thing is, I never have to walk back to the kitchen to refill my glass. The downside is that when I finally do move off the couch, I fall down.

I wonder what our 18th-century ancestors might think if they saw us consuming our Yellow Tail shiraz out of one of these glasses?

“’Tis a massive orb he doth take his refreshment from. That man is full as a goat, he is!”

Oh yeah, I should mention that during the writing of this column, one of our new, supersized glasses also doubled, briefly, as a home for my Oscar fish. I thought it would be funny.

Rest in peace, Bubbles. S

Jack Lauterback also is co-host of “Mornings with Melissa and Jack” on 103.7 Play weekdays from 6-9. Connect with him at letters@styleweekly.com, or on Twitter at @jackgoesforth.