On Pouring Wine: How Full Should a Glass of Wine Be?

published May 6, 2010
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(Image credit: Mary Gorman-McAdams)

When pouring a glass of wine how much do you pour? How full do you expect the glass to be when buying a glass of wine a in a restaurant or wine bar?

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

I have asked various sommelier friends about this. In the US, the measure poured for a glass of wine is not regulated. Hence, restaurants and bars are pretty free to take it upon themselves to decide what constitutes a single wine glass serving.

While some bars and restaurants do indicate the serving sizes on the drinks menu, many do not. In my experience (in New York), 4 to 5 ounces seems to be a fairly standard pour. That’s about 5 to 6 glasses per bottle.

While most of us like to get our money’s worth, we also like to have enough room to swirl and sniff the wine without splashing it all over the place, which can happen easily if the glass is too full.

Personally, I like a larger glass, with less wine in it, so that the wine can aerate more easily and release its aromas. Alternatively, I appreciate when my glass of wine comes in a small carafe, allowing me to pour as little or as much as I like. The benefits to this are twofold. Firstly the wine always seems to last longer, as I tend to sip more slowly, taking more time to swirl and appreciate the wine. Secondly, making several pours of the carafe makes me feel like I have had more wine for my money.

Why is any of this important? Apart from the aesthetics and practicality, there is also the alcohol issue. Because wine glass serving sizes are not officially regulated, and service training differs greatly between establishments, you could end up with almost a third of a bottle in a glass. While it might seem like great value for money, you end up consuming far more alcohol than you expected.

Would love to hear your views on pouring wine!

Mary Gorman-McAdams, DWS, is a New York based wine educator, freelance writer and consultant. She holds the Diploma in Wine & Spirits from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), and is a candidate in the Master of Wine Program.

Related: Tip: Estimating Wine Per Guest

(Images: Mary Gorman)