Spring racing carnival is in full swing, and that means Aussies are drinking massive amounts of champagne (or sparkling wine, if we want to not offend the French). For Melbourne Cup alone, an estimated 10,000 bottles will be consumed trackside. But is it true that the bubbles get you drunk quicker? And conversely, is it true that the hangover from champagne is less pronounced than with other beverages?
Picture by Jameson Fink
Sadly, the answer is “yes” to the first one and “no” to the second. It’s long been believed that the bubbles in champagne mean that it hits your bloodstream more quickly. We don’t know definitively if that’s the case, but experiments in which one group of drinkers consumed flat champagne while the other consumed the full-bubbled version showed that those who drank bubbly had a higher blood-alcohol level. With that said, even those drinking the flat version had higher levels. So while you might act stupidly more quickly with champagne, you’ll probably still be unsafe to drive after a couple of glasses of white wine.
The question of whether champagne gives you less of a hangover is more problematic. It has been variously claimed that the drink is more “pure” than other beverages or that the bubbles speed it through your system faster. For some individuals, champagne may be more pleasant, but I’m not aware of any proper scientific research that backs up the notion that champagne has less impact. As our comprehensive guide to hangover cures points out, your state the next day has far more to do with careful planning (eating enough, drinking water between drinks, that kind of tedious fun-crushing stuff) than with your chosen tipple.
Finally, if you do have a glass or two of champagne this racing season, remember to pour it like beer to avoid waste.