How Champagne Gets You Drunker, Faster

updated May 30, 2019
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(Image credit: Faith Durand)

If you’ve ever spent a night out celebrating with Champagne, you know the next morning’s hangover can be crippling. Although some blame their debauchery on the sugar content of sparkling wine, there’s actually a lot more at play than we realize.

Thanks to Merlin Thomas, professor of medicine and author of The Longevity List, we have a definitive answer.

At some point you’ve more than likely heard the old adage that you should never drink on an empty stomach. This proves true not because the food in your belly soaks up any booze but because a full stomach releases its contents more slowly, Thomas tells the Daily Mail. If you start boozing on an empty belly, it’s going to release from your stomach to the rest of your system and your bloodstream much faster — thus, you get pretty tipsy right away.

With Champagne, the same principle applies. Once you pop the cork on a bottle, carbon dioxide releases and fizzes to the surface. Thomas explains that when you throw back bubbly, it contains much of that dissolved gas, which continues to release inside your stomach. This occurs at an even faster rate as the Champagne warms to your body temperature. These reactions then force your stomach to release its contents to the intestines — where alcohol is absorbed — even more rapidly than normal. The end result? You get a bit more faded than you bargained for.

What’s more, the first glass can cause the most damage since it contains more gas immediately after the cork is popped. And if it’s ice-cold, you’re in triple trouble: Champagne doesn’t bubble as much when it’s chilled as it does once it’s warm, leaving more gas to fizz inside your stomach and get you buzzed.

This same effect can occur with beer and other fizzy drinks; however Champagne has been proven to be the worst culprit. So if you want to temper your inebriation and still sip bubbly, your only options are to drink warm, flat Champagne or take a page from Queen Victoria’s book and whisk some of those bubbles away with a swizzle stick. But the rest of us will just keep poppin’ bottles.