Beer before wine and you’ll feel fine?…so goes the tactical tippler’s adage.
But is there any truth in it? It appears not, for hangovers are much the same whatever the order of drinks, a study found.
Researchers have also debunked advice that drinkers choose ‘grape or grain but never the twain’ – because consuming wine or beer alone makes no difference either.
Scientists from Cambridge University and Witten/Herdecke University in Germany asked 90 participants to try different drinks combinations over two evenings.
Some switched between drinking wine before beer and beer before wine, while another group consumed one alcohol type the first evening and the other the second.
The day after each test, the group reported back on their hangovers, ranking symptoms including tiredness, headache strength, nausea and dizziness.
The results show the adage ‘beer before wine and you’ll feel fine, wine before beer and you’ll feel queer’ is simply wrong – as the hangovers were comparable.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the authors concluded it is how much alcohol you drink, not which type, which has the biggest impact on hangover severity.
Lead author Joran Kochling, of Witten/Herdecke University, said: ‘Using white wine and lager beer, we didn’t find any truth in the idea that drinking beer before wine gives you a milder hangover.
‘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.’
Folk wisdom had suggested there may have been some truth in the ‘beer before wine’ adage. It was said that someone consuming a drink with higher alcohol content, such as wine, may feel they are cutting back when they switch to lower-alcohol beer. This could mean they drink more, faster. However, this study, which appears in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, shows that is a myth.
Researchers split participants, aged 19 to 40, into three groups. The first were asked to drink two-and-a-half pints of Carlsberg at 5 per cent strength, followed by four large glasses of 11 per cent white wine. A week later, they had the drinks in the reverse order.
The second started with wine before beer, then switched around. The third had either beer or wine alone, then the other drink a week later. This group consumed roughly five pints of beer on one night and five glasses of wine the other. All participants scored their hangover based on eight symptoms, each ranked from one to seven.
Overall scores were between 13 and 20 no matter what they drank or in what order.
Co-author Dr Kai Hensel, from Cambridge, said: ‘Unpleasant as hangovers are, we should remember they do have one important benefit, at least – they are a protective warning sign that will certainly have aided humans over the ages to change their future behaviour. In other words, they can help us learn from our mistakes.’