The Easy Way to Avoid Drinking Too Much

Too much booze: We’ve all been there. But whether you’re just experiencing the free-flowing alcohol river most colleges have or whether you’re a seasoned veteran of the bar and cocktail-party circuit, it’s actually a lot easier to avoid drinking too much than you might think. Thanks to a new study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy, we’ve now got a set of four simple rules to follow that make it way easier to keep track of how much you’re drinking — especially with regards to wine. Because hangovers are the worst.

Here’s how it went down: The researchers, who hail from Iowa State and Cornell Universities, gathered together a sample size of 73 student volunteers (all of legal drinking age, of course), set up a whole bunch of testing stations, and had all the volunteers serve themselves wine at each one. The conditions of each testing station varied: Sometimes they had standard glasses, while other times they had larger ones; red and white were both on hand; sometimes the students were instructed to pour with their glasses on the table, while other times they were told to hold their glasses while pouring; and so on and so forth.

Thanks, Cersei.

Anyway, from the pouring habits displayed at each testing station, we can extrapolate the following guidelines for smarter, more responsible drinking:

  1. Use a narrow glass. Subjects poured 11.9 percent more into wide glasses than they did into narrow ones, likely due to what’s called the “fill-the-space phenomenon.” You know how you’re always told to dish out your meal on a small plate, rather than a large one, if you’re trying to get a handle on portion control? It’s not because the plate holds less; it’s because we have a tendency to put more food on larger plates in order to fill the empty space. The same thing apparently happens when we pour wine.
  2. Leave the glass on the table while you’re pouring, rather than holding it. Holding it leads to a 12.2 percent increase in the amount poured into it. We’re not totally sure why this is the case, but the researchers theorize that it has something to do with how difficult it can be to gauge the level of liquid when a glass moves even a tiny bit.
  3. If you’re going to drink wine, drink red. Subjects poured 9.2 percent less wine when it was red, probably because the darker color makes it easier to see how much is actually in your glass as you go. (Sorry, folks who insist on serving the right type of wine with specific foods.)
  4. Use the half-glass rule. The rule is as follows: Drink what you want; just make sure you’re only filling your glass up halfway each time you pour. This works for both genders, interestingly: Men tended to drink about 30 percent more when they didn’t use it, while women drank 27 percent less when they did use it. It helps if you think like an optimist.

Conversely, you could also opt for a beverage that’s easier to gauge than wine. It’s comparatively simpler to keep track of, say, how much beer you’ve drunk; since it frequently comes in bottles and cans, you can count how many you’ve had just by taking a tally of your empty, single-serving receptacles. If you’re drinking from a red Solo cup, though, I would imagine most of the rules mentioned above still apply: Only fill your glass up to a certain point, don’t hold it while pouring, and so on. Useful, no? I mean, we already know that "I'm never drinking again" is a lie — and our livers (and, y'know, our actual lives) will thank us in the long run for drinking responsibly.

Bottoms up!

Images: Giphy