“Beer on wine, let it be”: Study reveals what this folk wisdom is about

Anyone who drinks alcohol and does not limit it to just one glass will eventually ask themselves how they can avoid waking up the next morning with a heavy skull.

An old saying is then often quoted: “Beer on wine, let it be; Wine on beer, I praise that”.

Specialist and emergency physician Kai Hensel wanted to find out how much truth there was behind the proverb – with his results, which were published in the specialist magazine ‘American Journal of Clinical Nutrition’, he was able to refute the wisdom.

1.1 per thousand for science

For the study, Hensel recruited around 100 healthy volunteers between the ages of 19 and 40 who also like to drink beer and wine.

In order to be able to observe the effects of alcohol, each participant had to have two counterparts – i.e. people of similar age of the same sex, with a similar body mass index and similar drinking habits.

The researchers divided these trios into three groups. In these, they had to consume alcoholic beverages until they had a blood alcohol level of 1.1 per thousand.

“I’m glad we decided on a lower value,” quoted ‘Spiegel Online’ study leader Hensel. “Some participants had to vomit like that – and the safety of the test subjects was our top priority.”

The first group drank first beer and then white wine on the first evening, on the second evening the order was reversed – i.e. first wine and then beer.

The participants of the second group followed the same task but in reverse order, so they started with wine on the first evening and with beer on the second evening.

The third group, which only drank one of the drinks, served as a control.

Hangover under the same conditions

To ensure that the results were not distorted, all test subjects had the same requirements: They received the same meal on both evenings, with only the amount being adjusted for gender and age.

They were also given an adjusted amount of cool water before bed, namely six milliliters per kilogram of body weight.

The sleeping conditions were also the same for all participants. They slept in the same accommodation at the same room temperature and were woken up at the same time.

After waking up, all test subjects had to rate their hangover on a scale from zero to seven based on eight physical symptoms such as tiredness, dizziness and nausea.

This information was then compared with one another.

Hangover depends on quantity, not order

The results of the study clearly show that the order of the drinks or the selection of different types of alcohol makes no difference.

However, the condition for the next morning could be predicted by their own body signals: those who assessed themselves as very drunk and also vomited were worse off the next morning than other test subjects.

So if you drink alcohol, you should take it slower for the sake of your health.

When your body signals that it doesn’t want to take it anymore, you should listen to it. This not only saves you a bad hangover, but also other physical complaints that are promoted by excessive alcohol consumption in the long term.

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Hensel, Kai et al. (2019): Grape or grain but never the twain? A randomized controlled multiarm matched-triplet crossover trial of beer and wine, retrieved on April 29, 2022: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqy309

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