Your wine-drinking friends may slur on about it on Wine Wednesdays, but there’s no evidence that being “wine drunk” is any different than being any other kind of drunk.
Different people report getting different feelings from wine, but most describe wine drunk as a warm and cozy kind of drunk that makes you feel relaxed — but not drowsy — and still like yourself.
Others say wine goes straight to their heads and makes them tipsy, chatty, and dizzy.
No matter what your alcoholic beverage of choice, the symptoms you feel when intoxicated are produced by the same ingredient, which is ethyl alcohol or ethanol. Which symptoms of intoxication you feel and how intense they are come down to a bunch of factors, none of which are the type of alcohol.
It mostly depends on:
- The drink’s alcohol concentration. The higher the alcohol concentration, the more buzzed you’ll feel.
- How fast you drink. The faster alcohol gets into your bloodstream, the drunker you’ll feel. People tend to sip wine, which may explain why being wine drunk is described as feeling more relaxed and chill than say, beer drunk, which often involves chugging, or tequila drunk, which involves the quick pounding back of potent shots.
- How much you consume. Again, wine is often sipped and consumed slower than other drinks, which leads to drinking less. The less you drink, the less severe the intoxication.
Your sex assigned at birth, body size, and tolerance also play a role in how drunk you get and the symptoms of intoxication you feel.
Some research suggests that setting matters, too — as in where you do your drinking and the context.
For instance, in one
Expectations are another possible factor according to study authors. The gist being that if you expect wine (or any drink) to make you feel a certain way, it probably will because you‘re expecting it to. Where do these expectations come from? Advertising, peers, and previous experiences, to name a few.
There are definite differences between red and white wine, and some of those differences may contribute to how the wine affects you.
For one thing, the alcohol by volume (ABV) is typically higher in red wines compared to white wines.
Darker alcoholic beverages, like red wine, also contain higher concentrations of congeners (more on these in a minute), which may affect how your body processes alcohol, leaving it in your system longer.
Unlike being wine drunk, wine hangovers may actually be a thing.
Wine has a reputation for producing particularly nasty hangovers. Aside from the other culprits that contribute to intense hangovers, like drinking too much, drinking on an empty stomach, and not staying hydrated, the congeners in wine may also have something to do with it.
Congeners are chemical byproducts of the fermentation process that give wine and other alcoholic drinks their flavor. They’re found in higher concentrations in darker drinks, including red wine.
Congeners are associated with more severe hangovers, though experts still aren’t exactly sure why.
One theory is that the body has to break down congeners while also breaking down ethanol, causing the alcohol and its byproducts to linger in the body longer.
Alcohol and congeners both also increase inflammation in the body, which contributes to malaise — the icky feeling you get when you’re tired and just don’t feel well.
If you want to avoid a wine hangover, stick to clear drinks like vodka, which contain almost no congeners. If you’d rather not break up with wine, swapping red for white wine can help, since white wine has lower concentrations of these chemicals.
Along with cutting back on congeners, these tips can also help you avoid a hangover:
- Drink less. It’s a no-brainer, but it needs to be said. The less wine you consume, the less likely you are to feel hungover the next day. Cut back or try some alcohol-removed wine as an alternative.
- Sip it. Sipping slowly gives your body the time it needs to process and eliminate the alcohol from your system. You’ll also end up drinking less and have time to actually savor the wine, so it’s a win-win!
- Eat something. Alcohol is absorbed faster on an empty stomach. Eating before you start drinking and noshing while getting your wine on will help slow absorption. This will help prevent getting drunk or feeling hungover, and can also prevent stomach irritation.
- Stay hydrated. Keep water handy to sip while you’re wine-ing to help avoid dehydration which will make you feel worse.
“Wine drunk” doesn’t exist. Booze is booze and drunk is drunk. Period.
The type of wine you drink, how fast you drink it, and the effect you expect from your vino are just some of the things that influence how you ~think~ wine makes you feel. In the end — or rather, in the body — intoxication works the same way whether you’re sipping wine, cocktails, or beer.
If you’re concerned about your alcohol consumption and want help, you have a few options: