In humanity’s eternal quest to avoid hangovers, there have been many old wives tales designed to temper “the morning after the night before.” Few of these tips are more prevalent than the old saying: “Beer before wine and you'll feel fine; wine before beer and you'll feel queer.” However, is there any science to this long-standing claim?
Scientists of a new study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, have taken a deeper look. The researchers from Witten/Herdecke University in Germany attempted to see whether the order of beer and wine consumption affects the nastiness of a hangover.
It turns out, it doesn’t make a difference. Whether you start your night downing beers or quaffing wine, it doesn’t seem to affect the severity of your morning-after blues. The only variable that reduced the intensity of a hangover – we’re sorry to announce – was the quantity of how much they drank.
In what sounds like an extremely fun scientific study, the team rounded up 90 volunteers and split them into three groups: one drank 2.5 pints of beer followed by four large glasses of wine, the second group consumed the same amount of alcohol but in reverse order, and the third group just stuck to either beer or wine the whole night. After last orders, they were asked about their perceived level of drunkenness on a scale between 0 and 10.
Then, as it always does, came the hangover. The booze-hounds were asked about their level of hangover, measured by all the hallmark symptoms such as headaches, sleepiness, nausea, increased heart rate, etc. Senior author Dr Kai Hensel of Witten/Herdecke University told IFLScience that there is no concrete method of objectively measuring a hangover, but this proved to be a fairly sturdy way to assess their symptoms.
The results were pretty clear: everyone felt terrible. More to the point, people did not feel any less terrible if they mixed up the order of drinks.
"The truth is that drinking too much of any alcoholic drink is likely to result in a hangover,” said first author Jöran Köchling 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."
However, the question remains, where did this old folk wisdom of "beer before wine, you'll be fine" come from?
“My personal belief is that beer and wine were seen quite different at the times when these sayings arose. Interestingly, they exist in many languages,” added Dr Hensel.
For example, Germans claim "Wein auf Bier, das rat' ich Dir--Bier auf Wein, das lass' sein" and the French say "Bière sur vin est venin, vin sur bière est belle manière."
“It is possible that they didn’t always relate to the hangover of the night after, but rather social development. First, you drink beer as part of a lower socioeconomic group, then you rise into the 'higher class' who drank wine at that time, which is fine.”