Make sure it really is a small drink

A survey by Liverpool Trading Standards has shown wine-drinkers may be drinking more alcohol than they think.

Legally, wine by the glass can be sold in quantities of 125ml, 175ml and 250ml, and over time much of the licensed trade moved towards a 175ml glass as their standard glass of wine.

In 2010 the government introduced legislation to make it easier for consumers to buy smaller size drinks, by making it a mandatory condition that all licensed premises are able to provide a 125ml measure of wine to consumers, and that they advertise this fact.

Trading standards officers in Liverpool visited 45 licensed premises across the city, including bars and restaurants, to check what consumers were given when buying wine by the glass.

In the undercover operation, officers ordered a ‘small’ glass of wine. In only five of the premises did the seller ask the customer what size they wanted or automatically supply a 125ml glass. The majority of glasses supplied were much larger, ranging between 140ml and 220ml.

In addition, 27 of the premises (60%) were unaware of the mandatory licence requirement to make available a 125ml glass of wine if requested, and only 22 had the correct equipment for supplying a 125ml quantity of wine.

The premises visited were given advice on complying with the law but the survey results suggest an overall lack of awareness in the licensed trade about the requirement to provide smaller measures for customers. Trading standards officers will be making sure that other licensed premises, not visited during the survey, are also complying.

Councillor Tim Moore, city council cabinet member, said: “This is the time of the year when many people try and cut down on their drink consumption ,make healthier choices and keep to the recommended number of alcohol units. But it is going to be difficult for them to keep to their New Year resolutions if they are being served a bigger drink than they think they are getting.

“It is important for consumers to know that if they are out having a drink they have the option to buy only a small measure of alcohol, such as a 125ml glass of wine, which has fewer units, and it is important bars and restaurants provide this option.

“There are clear health implications about this- people, may think they are only having a small glass of wine but they are having much more alcohol; than they realise. It is important we get this message over both to the consumer and the licensed trade.”
• The recommended units of alcohol are: For women a maximum of 14 and men 21 units per week, with 2-3 and 3-4 units per day respectively.

A ‘small’ wine is 1.5 units, so two glasses is effectively the top limit for women. In some of the restaurants visited the two glasses of wine served would be almost twice the maximum recommended daily unit intake.