“Beer before wine” adage doesn’t stand up to scientific scrutiny.
Everyone who drinks has an adage they try and stick to in order to keep a dreaded hangover at bay. “Beer before liquor, never been sicker,” some say. “Beer before wine and you’ll be fine,” is another you might find yourself referring to on nights you feel like trying out both craft IPAs and a fine pinot noir. You’ll probably still wake up with a hangover if you go too hard, but you can at least be buoyed by the knowledge that things would probably be worse if you flouted that bit of folk wisdom.
As is often the case when it comes to alcohol studies, science suggests that our common understanding doesn’t match up with what the data has to say. A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates that there’s no real, significant difference in hangover levels when it comes to beer, wine, and the order in which they’re consumed.
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To conduct the study, a joint team of researchers from Germany’s Witten/Herdecke University in Germany and the University of Cambridge in the UK divided 90 participants into three groups: the control group drank only beer or wine, while the two other groups either drank beer or wine before making the switch. The same participants then returned about a week later to switch their drinking order (while the control group switched its beer or wine choice). After every supervised night out, each graded eight classic hangover dimensions (like headache, nausea, and thirst) on a zero-to-seven scale for a composite 0-to-56-point hangover score.
When all was said and done, there was little in the way of difference between the groups, with the study concluding that “neither type nor order of consumed alcoholic beverages significantly affected hangover intensity.” Researchers found that the study’s female participants tended to feel slightly worse than their male counterparts, however. It was also observed that drinking habits and hangover frequency had little impact on how badly participants ended up feeling, but levels of perceived drunkenness and vomiting (a pretty obvious sign that one has had too much to drink), ended up correlating with higher hangover scores the following day.
Based on those findings, study author Joran Kochling suggests that the deciding factor in a hangover isn’t what booze you put into your body or in what order, but the amount of alcohol consumed itself.
“The truth is that drinking too much of any alcoholic drink is likely to result in a hangover,” he said in a statement. “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."
So if you’re worried that one glass of wine followed by one beer is a deadly combination that’ll leave you completely incapacitated the following morning, fear not. Just make sure you cut yourself off before things get too crazy if you don’t want to set a new high score on that 56-point hangover scale.