The advice "beer before wine and feel you'll fine, wine before beer and you'll feel queer" has long been followed by drinkers eager to avoid a hangover.

However, a study by the University of Cambridge and German scientists suggests that the order of drinking does little to stave off nausea and a throbbing head.

Researchers asked volunteers to drink two and a half pints of beer followed by four large glasses of wine, while a second group had the same amount of alcohol in reverse order.

The next day they were asked to rate their hangover, taking into account thirst, fatigue, headache, dizziness, nausea, stomach ache, increased heart rate and loss of appetite.


A week later the groups were asked to switch the order of drinks to see whether it made any difference.

Researchers found the having beer before wine did not help with reducing hangover risk. Photo / Getty Images
Researchers found the having beer before wine did not help with reducing hangover risk. Photo / Getty Images

But after recording the levels of hangovers from both groups, researchers concluded there was no difference. Put simply, if you drink too much, you're still likely to feel ill, whether you follow the rule or not.

Dr Kai Hensel, a senior clinical fellow at the University of Cambridge and senior author of the study, said the team originally hoped to come up with sound scientific advice to help people avoid hangovers.

"A clear result in favour of one particular order could help to reduce hangovers and help many people have a better day after a night out - though we encourage people to drink responsibly," said Dr Hensel.

"Unfortunately, we found that there was no way to avoid the inevitable hangover just by favouring one order over another."

The belief that drinkers can be spared a hangover by drinking beer first can be found in several countries, which have sayings similar to the British one.

Hangover symptoms occur when higher-than-normal blood alcohol concentrations drop back to zero bringing dehydration, changes in immune response, and disturbances of our metabolism and hormones.

They are likely to be influenced by ingredients other than the pure alcohol content, such as colourings and flavourings, which is why clear spirits are often the best way to avoid a pounding head.


The research was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.