Does It Really Matter If You Drink Wine Before Beer?

Those imbibing more than one type of alcoholic beverage on a night out might recall the old adages that recommend a preferred drinking order — namely, that drinking beer before wine is better than drinking wine before beer. It's such a pervading myth that versions of the warning appear even outside of the English language; they have similar phrases in German and French, too (via ScienceDaily). Other sayings warn against mixing beer and wine altogether: "Grape or grain, but never the twain."

In theory, these sayings are designed to prevent or minimize hangovers, a phenomenon that many have experienced but that no one (including medical professionals) seems to fully understand (via Wired). But does it really make a difference if you mix wine and beer in the "wrong" order? A group of researchers at Witten/Herdecke University in Germany set out to find the answer in a study, the results of which were published in a 2019 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

During the experiment, one study group drank beer and then wine, while the second group drank in the reverse order. A third control group drank only beer, or only wine. About a week later, the subjects reversed the beer-wine sequence, while the control group switched from only beer to only wine, or vice versa.

Does the order of beer and wine consumption affect hangover symptoms?

According to Harvard Health Publishing, the study was performed on 90 participants, ages 19 to 40, with a similar cross-section in each group to represent variations in sex, body type, drinking habits, and previous hangover experiences.

ScienceDaily explains that the day after the drinking periods, researchers inquired about the participants' hangover symptoms, asking about typical post-drinking side effects such as thirst, headache, nausea, and faster heart rate. Ultimately, there was no major difference reported through switching up the order of imbibement, or sticking to one alcohol type only.

In a finding that surprises no one, vomiting and a higher level of drunkenness achieved (as estimated by the participants) were the two factors most likely to lead to worse hangover symptoms. In fact, the study found that those in the control group, drinking only beer or only wine, were more likely to vomit than those who mixed the two in either order.

Jöran Köchling, lead author of the study, said about the findings (via CNN), "We didn't find any truth in the idea that drinking beer before wine gives you a milder hangover than the other way around." His colleague, Dr. Kai Hensel, took a more philosophical view: "Unpleasant as hangovers are, we should remember that they do have one important benefit... they can help us learn from our mistakes."