‘Beer before wine, you’ll feel fine’ hangover mantra debunked by Cambridge academics

Variations of the ‘grape or grain, but never the twain’ exist across Europe but all are equally useless, researchers found

Alex Matthews-King
Health Correspondent
Friday 08 February 2019 08:50 GMT
People who abstain from alcohol are off sick more often than those who drink moderately

Scientists on a quest to understand the hangover have shattered one of the central beliefs of pain-free drinking, finding that drinking beer before wine did not result in test subjects “feeling fine”.

University of Cambridge and German researchers were inspired to test the folk mantras which exist in several languages, warning unwary drinkers not to mix their beverages.

While an unhelpful loved one in the UK might chide “grape or grain, but never the twain”, the German lying foetal on the sofa can expect to hear “wein auf bier, das rat’ ich dir, bier auf wein, das lass’ sein” and queasy French partygoers are told “bière sur vin est venin, vin sur bière est belle manière”.

But after exhaustive testing, the researchers concluded that overindulging will leave you just as sickly, regardless of the order you neck your drinks.

For their study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, they recruited 90 volunteers. Each was given an identical volume of alcohol, but administered either as wine (white) then beer (lager), beer then wine or just wine or beer, with the order reversed a week later.

The plucky participants were kept under medical supervision overnight and the next day – after several bouts of vomiting – reported their wellbeing on the “Acute Hangover Scale”.

This scientific device breaks the hangover down into its constituent parts, including thirst, fatigue, headache, dizziness, nausea, stomach ache, increased heart rate and loss of appetite.

“We didn’t find any truth in the idea that drinking beer before wine gives you a milder hangover than the other way around,” said first author Joran Kochling from Germany’s Witten/Herdecke University.

“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,” he added.

Dr Kai Hensel, a senior clinical fellow at Cambridge University said that hangovers, though poorly understood, play an important role.

“They are a protective warning sign that will certainly have aided humans over the ages to change their future behaviour,” he said.

Had his team found a recipe for avoiding hangovers Dr Hensel said they could have helped millions of overindulgers to have a better day after a night out.

“Unfortunately, we found that there was no way to avoid the inevitable hangover just by favouring one order over another,” he said, before adding he hopes the rigorous approach will inspire others in future.

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