28

There is this saying that if you drink alcoholic beverages of good quality (expensive or "well made" whiskey, vodka, wine etc.), you are less likely to get a hangover.

Is there any correlation between the quality of the consumed alcoholic beverages and the likeliness of getting a hangover?

  • 5
    Probably be helpful to find a citeable instance of this claim somewhere, though I agre that it is widespread in a casual "some bloke at the pub told me" kind of way. – dmckee Oct 20 '13 at 16:08
  • 8
    On a specific budget, I would say yes. $10 worth of expensive whiskey is far less likely to cause a hang over than $10 worth of very cheap whiskey... if only because you'll drink less of it. :) – Flimzy Oct 20 '13 at 22:02
  • 1
    going on along @Flimzy's line: maybe people who drink in a way that is prone to produce a hangover are likely to drink cheap stuff? – cbeleites supports Monica Oct 21 '13 at 19:38
  • 1
    It is a common belief with wine. There are various roots to it: cheap wines have a lot of sulfite to stabilize them. This can give headaches to sensitive people. Those are particularly true with white and rosé wines because they don't have the tannins as in red wines. I can also confirm from personal objective tests that really cheap wines do cause more headache than "correct" wines. Red is not so much affected. However, the key to avoid hangover is to drink water too. (not an answer because I have no real proof of all this) – Eric Darchis Oct 22 '13 at 9:50
  • The key to a good answer would be some way to separate out the effects of beverage type and beverage quality. I suspect that some types are more likely to cause hangovers and it isn't primarily about quality. Though there is a story that a Scottish brewer of beer deliberately added things to a weak beer to create hangovers and therefore the illusion that the beer was stronger than it actually was. – matt_black Oct 22 '13 at 16:05
4

First, what is hangover? Hangover is a combination of symptoms, such as nausea and headache, which occur several hours after stopping drinking - that is when the blood alcohol levels start to approach zero; more symptoms and proposed mechanisms are listed here.

Question: Is there any correlation between the quality of the consumed alcoholic beverages and the likeliness of getting a hangover?

  1. Methanol in alcoholic beverages may cause hangover. Alcohol Hangover: Mechanism and Mediators "Possible contributing factors to hangover: compounds other than alcohol in beverages, especially methanol." NOTE: This is their opinion, not a study result.

  2. Alcoholic beverages high in congeners--byproducts of alcohol fermentation--(whisky, rum, red wine)--seem to cause hangover more often than those with less congeners:

Whisky vs. vodka: a review In this 2010 review of studies, authors agree that "...highest congener beverage (bourbon) results in more severe hangover ratings than does the beverage with essentially no congeners (vodka), although ethanol effects per se had a considerably stronger effect on hangover than did congener content."

Alcohol type and hangover severity Reported hangover severity (in decreasing order) after drinking of various beverages: brandy, red wine, rum, whisky, white wine, gin, vodka, beer, ethanol diluted in orange juice. According to the article, hangover severity is related to amount of congeners.

My conclusion: Hangover may be caused by ethanol and by congeners, but, from studies available, there is insufficient evidence that alcohol beverage quality ("well made", price) would be related to hangover.

  • 2
    I seem to remember some pop science TV show that associated hangovers with dehydration. Do any of these studies attempt to compensate for individuals that might start the study at different levels of hydration? (I.e. make everyone drink 4 liters of water before starting drinking (with hopefully similar body types)) – user1873 Aug 20 '14 at 14:00
  • Hangover is often contributed to dehydration, but always as a suggested not as a proven cause (to my knowledge). According to this website nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10925&page=134, alcohol does not cause significant dehydration, so hangover does not seem to be caused by dehydration. Alcohol triggers the secretion of gastric juice, which causes nausea. Drinking water flushes gastric juice further into intestine, which may relieve nausea. So, water, in my opinion, very likely helps to ease hangover, but not by treating dehydration, but by diluting gastric juice. – Jan Aug 20 '14 at 14:36

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .