You probably have no idea. And that’s precisely the problem, says the Consumers’ Federation of Australia (CFA), which is pushing for standard measure glasses to ensure people are getting value for money.
John Furbank, from the CFA’s executive committee, says the issue is biggest for wine drinkers. Because there are so many different size wine glasses and fill heights it is almost impossible for a consumer to know how big or small the drink they’re buying actually is.
It also is a problem for people trying to monitor how many standard drinks they are consuming.
“Consumers are entitled to know how much wine is being served, particularly where actual value of wine purchased at $9.50 to $14 a glass can vary by one or two dollars or more between glasses or serves,” Mr Furbank said.
But the hotel and liquor industry opposes any changes, because the cost of replacing glasses would be too high for pubs and bars.
Under current legislation there is no rule determining the quantity of a glass of beer or wine, and there is no requirement for wine glasses to have embossed plimsoll lines.
Some pubs and hotels have glasses with plimsoll lines but these differ between establishments. Most lines are set at 150ml, but can be as low as 130ml or 120ml.
“Basically people don’t know the measure that they’re actually paying for. Most other commodities you know. If you go to a supermarket to buy a bag of carrots you know exactly the price per kilogram,” Mr Furbank said.
As well as calling for standard wine glass measures, the CFA is calling for clearer labelling on beer glasses.
Currently a beer glass can be any measure providing the quantity is marked on the glass.
“Years ago all the states agreed to have the glasses stamped so customers know how much they’re drinking. Look at a beer glass next time you’re at a pub, it will have an old fashioned scale stamp on the bottom,” Mr Furbank says.
The CFA argues this label should be on the side of the glass so people know how much they’ve drunk before they finish their drink.
Mr Furbank said the issue has been raised with government body the National Measurement Institute.
“The next step is to start lobbying consumer affairs ministers. There’s not a federal consumer affairs minister but we will lobby the relevant federal ministers and then seek to get some legislative change,” he said.
A spokesman for the Australian Hotels Association said it strongly opposed the extension of measurement regulations to wines sold by the glass.
“This would impose a significant cost burden on every licensee as new glassware would need to be purchased containing the required plimsoll lines,” he said.
“The cost of this process would vary according to glassware quality and venue size but would be several thousand dollars in even a small country hotel. For a metropolitan accommodation hotel with major conference facilities the cost could be in the tens of thousands of dollars.”
The spokesman said there were also concerns that consumers may equate one glass of alcohol with one standard drink, when in reality the alcohol content varies greatly from one drink to another.