Beer before wine not fine, scientists find after vomit-filled tests
Research into old saying shows you get a hangover no matter which you drink first
Mind your head: “The only reliable way of predicting how miserable you’ll feel the next day is by how drunk you feel and whether you are sick,” the study’s lead author says. Photograph: Gulshan Khan/AFP/Getty
Beer before wine, or wine before beer: whatever the order, you’ll feel queer. That, at least, is the updated aphorism drinkers will have to embrace now scientists have proved that drink order has no effect on the magnitude of one’s hangover.
Under carefully controlled lab conditions, British and German researchers plied 90 volunteers with beer and wine to find out once and for all whether hangovers are worsened by the order in which drinks are necked.
“Everyone knows the saying, “Beer before wine and you’ll feel fine; wine before beer and you’ll feel queer,” Kai Hensel, a senior clinical fellow at Cambridge University, says. “We thought, there must be something in it: how can we test it?”
The volunteers, aged 19 to 40, were given a standardised meal tailored to their individual energy requirements and then split into three groups. The first drank about 2½ pints of lager followed by four large glasses of white wine. The second group had the same drinks but in reverse order. The third group had only beer or wine up to the same breath-alcohol concentration, so they had the same alcohol level in their systems.
Researchers monitored the drinkers throughout the session and quizzed them on how drunk they felt. Before bed, each got a glass of water, with the size depending on their body weight. After a night under medical supervision, the groggy-headed participants were asked about their hangovers and scored on the acute-hangover scale, which ranks factors such as thirst, fatigue, headache, dizziness, nausea, stomach ache, a fast heart rate and loss of appetite.
Hangovers appear to be a miserable combination of inflammation, dehydration and low blood-sugar levels, says a psychologist who has studied them
A week later the volunteers came back and did it all again. This time those who drank beer before wine on their first visit started on the wine, and vice versa. Those in the control groups also switched, so the beer drinkers had wine on the second visit, and the wine drinkers had beer. The beer was donated by Carlsberg, which had no other involvement in the study.
The participants reeled off a rich list of hangover symptoms, and about one in 10 threw up. But the results, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that the order drinks were consumed in had no impact on “hangover intensity”.
“We debunked the saying. It’s not true,” Hensel says. “You’re going to be the same whatever order you drink these beverages in.” He stresses that the study only compared beer with white wine, and did not include red wine, spirits or dark beers.
“The truth is that drinking too much of any alcoholic drink is likely to result in a hangover,” Jöran Köchling, the first author on the study, from Witten/Herdecke University, in Germany, says. “The only reliable way of predicting how miserable you’ll feel the next day is by how drunk you feel and whether you are sick. We should all pay attention to these red flags when drinking.”
Richard Stephens, a Keele University psychologist who has studied hangovers, says the finding is no surprise. “Hangovers are mostly down to the quantity you drink,” he says. “But there is some research that darker drinks give more severe hangovers because they contain compounds called congeners. They add flavour and character, but it’s thought they can have unpleasant side effects.” He says hangovers appear to be a miserable combination of inflammation, dehydration and low blood-sugar levels.
Hensel, a paediatrician and geneticist, says the study was intended to show how rigorous science could provide a concrete answer to a specific, if humorous, question. “We wanted to do a sophisticated gag which has now gone way over the top,” he says. – Guardian