Latest scientific news 07 March 2019

Wine before beer, beer before wine? – Grape or grain but never the twain


Alcohol-induced hangover is characterized by a well-known complex of unpleasant physical and mental symptoms that occur when elevated blood alcohol concentrations return to zero. Surprisingly, there are neither any sound pathophysiological hangover models nor any effective medical remedies. Instead, societies appear to rely on old folk sayings that exist in numerous languages and variations, e.g., “Beer before wine and you’ll feel fine; wine before beer and you’ll feel queer.” Similarly, the French say, “Bière sur vin est venin, vin sur bière est belle manière.” However, there are currently no available data to support or refute these sayings. To put an end to this uncertainty, the researchers scientifically evaluated the influence of the combination and order of beer and wine consumption on hangover intensity.


  • Scientists randomly assigned 90 participants (aged between 19 and 40 years and gender equal – 50% were female; 50% male) into three groups.
  • The first group consumed around 1.3 l of beer, followed by four large glasses of white wine (0.7 l), whereas the second had the same amounts of alcohol, but in reverse order.
  • The third group was the control group and consumed only beer (3 l) or wine (1.2 l).
  • One week later, participants in the first two groups switched around, while those in the control group changed to the other alcoholic drink. The hangover severity was assessed by an Acute Hangover Scale (AHS) rating based on factors such as thirst, fatigue, headache, dizziness, nausea, stomach ache, increased heart rate and loss of appetite on the day following each intervention.
  • Participants were asked about their wellbeing at regular intervals and were asked to judge their perceived level of drunkenness on a scale between 0 and 10 at the end of each study day. Before going to bed, all participants received an individualised amount of refrigerated drinking-water tailored to their body weight. All volunteers were kept under medical supervision overnight.
  • The results suggested that neither the type nor the order of alcoholic beverages consumed significantly affected hangover intensity. However, the results showed that vomiting and perceived drunkenness were the strongest predictors for hangover intensity.
  • It was not possible to predict the intensity of a hangover based on factors such as age, body weight, or drinking habits. However, women tended to have slightly worse hangovers than men.

Being asked about the reasons for the study one of the researchers said: “Besides helping to reduce hangovers, this study was also about showing, in a public-friendly manner, how a rigorously-conducted study can provide a solid answer to a specific question and be engaging at the same time. We hope it will help inspire next generations of young doctors and researchers to be engaged in a research-driven environment.

Warning: This kind of experiment should not to be repeated without medical supervision!

Kochling J; Geis B; Wirth S; Hensel KO, ‘Grape or grain but never the twain? A randomized controlled multiarm matched-triplet crossover trial of beer and wine’, Am J Clin Nutr 2019;109:345–352.