Food & Drink

Measuring the benefit: why serving 125ml glasses of wine could benefit bars and drinkers

By Caroline Lindsay, 22 January 2014 10.51am.

A Government scheme to encourage us to drink less wine when we’re in the pub has just been launched. Caroline Lindsay finds out more.

Bars and pubs across Scotland are being encouraged to increase the availability of 125ml wine measures, as part of a new campaign. The 125ml campaign was launched yesterday by the Scottish Government Alcohol Industry Partnership (SGAIP).

Public Health Minister Michael Matheson is calling on businesses across Scotland to promote the responsible consumption of alcohol by making available smaller 125ml measures of wine to customers.

Speaking at McSorleys bar in Edinburgh as he launched the campaign, Mr Matheson said: “Tackling Scotland’s difficult relationship with alcohol is one of the government’s key priorities. All too often we see only medium (175ml) and large size (250ml) measures of wine available behind the bar and this can mean people end up drinking more than they realise.

“A large glass of wine can contain over three units of alcohol, which is in excess of a woman’s daily recommended intake of alcohol and equivalent to a man’s recommended daily intake. Clearly, it is important that people have the ability to choose a smaller measure if they wish and by offering the 125ml measure, businesses are giving their customers the opportunity to drink responsibly.

“This simple, yet effective, step is part of our wider Alcohol Framework, which consists of more than 40 measures and sets out how we are tackling the problem of alcohol misuse. We welcome the action from the industry to promote it, increasing consumer choice and promoting responsible drinking.”

The SGAIP is a partnership between the Scottish Government and the alcohol industry that works to deliver joint initiatives which promote responsible drinking and reduce alcohol-related harm.

Paul Waterson, Chief Executive, Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA), said: “Our members fully support this initiative. It fits perfectly with the SLTA’s commitment to promote responsible retailing and help reduce alcohol harm. Our customers have told us that they welcome increased choice and that the offer of small, medium or large glasses of wine in our premises will make them think more about the amount of alcohol they are consuming.

“Our staff will be trained to offer a small, medium or large glass of wine and what we have found is that at certain times of day people will take less wine, so they will appreciate being offered 125ml. We’ve also discovered that if someone has already had a couple of large glasses, they will then choose to drink a smaller measure.

“The big problem we really don’t want to see is a customer just being offered a minimum of 250ml. If they have a glass containing more than they actually want, it’s only human nature to drink it all.

“Being licensed shows that we have to be responsible operators in the first instance — we are trying to promote responsible retailing and reduce alcohol harm. Part of the licensing act says that we must always promote public health and we take that very seriously.”

Patrick Browne, Chief Executive, Scottish Beer and Pub Association, said: “As an association, we are fully supportive of the initiative and will commend it to our member companies, their pubs, and the wider licensed trade.”

Businesses are being encouraged to support the voluntary 125ml campaign by: making available a 125ml measure for wine; pricing the 125ml option on menus where possible; displaying materials promoting the 125ml measure for wine; ensuring staff know the additional 125ml wine measure is now available to customers.

William Boyack of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association added: “As a member of the Scottish Government Alcohol Industry Partnership, we welcome the introduction of this industry-led initiative, which is aimed at enhancing consumer choice and encouraging responsible drinking. It’s a great example of a partnership working between the government and the drinks industry to promote responsible drinking and reduce alcohol-related harm.”

Danny Adu, shift manager at The Capitol and Lloyds Bar in Dundee, said: “I can’t remember the last time someone asked me for a small glass of wine — it doesn’t happen very often because the price difference between the 125ml and the 175ml is only 29p so it’s a no-brainer to ask for a medium glass. But I think it’s a good idea to encourage people to drink a bit less, although I’m not sure it’s good from a business point of view!

“We want people to have a good time and to have a couple of drinks but not to get drunk and start throwing-up or causing trouble. If the scheme is a success then it will be a win-win situation — customers will still have fun but it will help make our jobs easier.”