A wine hangover is worse than a beer one, officially

Red will hit you the hardest


Wine versus beer falls lower on the philosophical tier hierarchy than the chicken versus egg argument. But which delivers the more brutal hangover remains a pervasive, frustrating debate.

So we asked an expert: presuming you don’t mix your drinks, which will make you feel worse? The verdict was wine – specifically red – gives you the worse hangover. Beer is weaker, and you can drink more pints without worrying about a desperately thick head.

“Research has found that spirits enter the blood stream unsurprisingly, the quickest, closely followed by wine and then beer,” said Liv Bales, a consultant nutritionist from London who runs NutriLiv.

A lot of it is simply down to alcohol content. Beer is weaker than wine, even though you’ll typically drink more of it. The general theory is that the darker the drink, the worse the hangover.

“Congeners are organic molecules, which provide each drink with a distinctive flavour, but they could also be toxic in the body,” Liv adds. “This provides us with the nausea and pounding headache that usually follows. Darker drinks are thought to contain more congeners.”

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This logic means crystal clear vodka is going to make you feel better in the morning than a thick glass of Sailor Jerry or JD. Wine has a similar effect. A fruity red might have more sophistication than a dry white – but you’re going to suffer for it more.

White’s alcohol content is two to three per cent lower, but causes its own, unique miseries. The “white wine hangover” comes from the fact white wine makes your stomach secrete additional acid, irritating the lining and making you feel sick,” says Liv. “It contains sulphites – chemical compounds that stop bacterial growth and act as preservatives. In the digestive system these break and sulphur dioxide is created, which may trigger headaches.”

Doesn’t sound too bad. Couple of paracetamol and a banana and you’ll be fine. Red on the other hand is an another story altogether. According to Liv, the grapes are picked at a later, more powerful stage and have a higher alcohol content than white – usually 12 to 14 per cent. Red wine is fermented longer with pips and skin,” she adds. “It creates another toxic type of alcohol called methanol. Methanol leads to the suffering you feel several hours later.”