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Whether you are sending a bottle to your accountant, or having a glass yourself, tax season is a good reason for wine.

Whether you are sending a bottle to your accountant, or having a glass yourself, tax season is a good reason for wine.Getty Images/iStockphoto

On the surface the math is simple, a standard 750 ml bottle of wine equals 26.4 ounces. By industry standards that’s 5.28 glasses of wine (based on a 5 imperial oz serving.) The suggestion being a bottle can serve two at dinner, with each getting two glasses and a splash more.

But the reality is more complicated. For starters, the size of the glass and the volume poured can vary widely. Some restaurants embrace a five-ounce, while others offer six or, even, nine-ounce pours. As performance enhancing large, sommelier-style glasses have become more fashionable, that standard five ounce serving suddenly looks insufficient, so the wine flows more quickly. Research studies have shown white wine pours are commonly more generous than red and that we tend to pour less into glasses on a table compared to a glass in someone’s hand.

When Georg Riedel was making the rounds in North America in the 2000s, conducting seminars to advertise the functionality of his company’s varietal-specific wine glasses, the Austrian glassmaker would show that the large bowl of the glass designed for cabernet sauvignon could hold the contents of a bottle of wine with room to spare. That wasn’t his intent. The volume in the glass helps to amplify the aromatic complexity of the wine, he would explain, allowing the esters, terpenes, thiols, pyrazines, and norisoprenoids to hover in the glass, like a layer cake with lighter floral notes on top and heavier alcohol and wood derived elements near the surface of the wine.

To get the best experience from Riedel’s and other precision crystal wine glasses, you are supposed to pour the wine to meet the widest part of the bowl, typically between one-third and one-half the height of the bowl.

Another consideration comes from the latest guidelines from Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, regarding what is considered a safe level of alcohol consumption. The question changes from glasses to standard drinks, based on the alcohol content and the volume of the pour served. If wine lovers are confused about how much wine they are pouring into their glass, they have no idea how many standard drinks they are ingesting.

A standard drink contains 17.05 ml of pure alcohol so the higher the alcohol content of the wine, the smaller the size of the standard drink. By this calculation, a 26.4 ounce bottle of 13.5 per cent alcohol wine equals 5.94 standard drinks, while a traditional bottle of 12 per cent abv champagne holds 5.28 standard drinks.

Put another way, that nine-ounce steakhouse pour of ripe and rewarding California cabernet can equate to 2.34 standard drinks. Whether you’re calculating standard drinks or counting glasses, there are different answers to how that standard 750 ml bottle of wine is carved up.

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