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A new study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition debunks the commonly-held theory.

Bridget Hallinan
February 08, 2019

We’ve all got our tips and tricks for trying to avoid a hangover—chugging water before bed, taking a precautionary Aspirin, or soaking up the alcohol with a greasy, cheesy pizza slice at 3 a.m. There’s also those widely upheld phrases like “liquor before beer, in the clear” or “beer before wine, and you’ll feel fine” which some of us choose to believe are science-proven ways to wake up without a pounding headache. Well, a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition is here to tell you that it doesn’t matter if you have wine or beer first—if you drink in excess, the hangover is coming regardless.

The study was conducted by researchers in Germany at Witten/Herdecke University over summer 2017. They noted that there were no “sound pathophysiological hangover models nor any effective remedies,” and, as a result, wanted to test if the cautionary “beer before wine” sayings actually had any merit to them. So, they wrangled 90 volunteers between the age of 19 and 40 to test it out, splitting them into a control group, group 1, and group 2. All groups had to lay off alcohol for one week before the study began—then, members of group 1 drank beer followed by wine, group two drank wine followed by beer, and members of the control group drank either wine or beer until they reached a certain breath alcohol concentration or BrAC. Then, they had to record how drunk they felt, on a scale of one to 10 (if they vomited, they were shown to rate at the higher end of the scale).

The beer in question was a Carlsberg Pilsner lager from 1847 (five percent alcohol, two-and-a-half pints per volunteer) while the wine was a 2015 “Edelgräfler quality” white (11.1 percent alcohol, four glasses per volunteer) — you know, in case you were wondering. Volunteers ate standardized meals (with variations depending on “energy requirements”), and were monitored overnight for safety reasons. Then, after a week off, they returned for day two of the study—and did everything in the reverse. Those who only drank wine drank beer, or swapped beer first for wine first, etc. Each time, their hangovers were studied based on eight factors (including nausea, headache, and thirst), according to the study.

Ultimately, the researchers could not confirm if drinking beer before wine gives you a less intense hangover than drinking wine before beer. The study's authors proclaimed the “beer before wine” sayings officially debunked in their conclusion and explained that to truly reduce your chance of getting a hangover, you need to pay attention to factors like “perceived drunkenness” and vomiting. In other words? If you feel sick at night, expect to feel sick the next morning, too.

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