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Why do I seem to get drunk faster on Champagne than other drinks?
November 12th, 2010
09:02 AM ET

Why do I seem to get drunk faster on Champagne than other drinks?

Too embarrassed to ask your doctor about sex, body quirks, or the latest celeb health fad? In a regular feature and a new book, "What the Yuck?!," Health magazine medical editor Dr. Roshini Raj tackles your most personal and provocative questions. Send 'em to Dr. Raj at whattheyuck@health.com.


Q: Why do I seem to get drunk faster on Champagne than other drinks?

A: It's not your imagination. While a glass of Champagne has the same alcohol content as a glass of wine or your basic cocktail, the bubbles (gas) in Champagne cause it to get absorbed faster in your stomach and into your bloodstream so you get drunk more quickly.

Also, because the Champagne-making process involves two fermentations, it contains more of certain chemicals (called congeners) that make hangovers worse. Guess that’s why we save it for special occasions!

Roshini Raj, M.D., is Health magazine’s medical editor and co-author of “What the Yuck?!.” Board-certified in gastroenterology and internal medicine, Raj is also an assistant professor of medicine at New York University Medical Center and a contributor on the “Today” show.

Copyright Health Magazine 2011


soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Soledad's Sister

    CNN keeps deleting my posts because they are in a dark font.......HOw dare you CNN!!!!

    November 12, 2010 at 12:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Traumatized Poster

    There I was just reading an Article on CNN's webpage and I thought I would post my opinion but it was deleted...Am I not equal to other readers and posters? am I inferior?Wow.... is my opinion not as good as others? Depression sank in ...Thanks CNN!!!

    November 12, 2010 at 12:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. ElizardBETH Crowinn Senior Big DOG Medical Gossip Spreader

    **************************************breaking news************************
    ******************************************************************CHAMPAGNE KILLS!!!!!!............

    *****************************************************STAY TUNED********************************

    November 12, 2010 at 16:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. ozmodius

    The headline read "Why drunk faster on champagne." Hmmm..................that seem don't be english proper!

    November 12, 2010 at 17:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. David Strejc

    Send this to Allen and Michele...

    November 12, 2010 at 17:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. jj

    Mere alcohol doesn't thrill me at all...

    November 12, 2010 at 18:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. m

    I just got back from an all inclusive resort in Cancun. That included champagne, orange juice, vodka and tomato juice at the breakfast buffet.

    I was surprised to see how many women were making mimosas. Most of them w/ a toddler on their hip.

    Now I know why.

    November 12, 2010 at 18:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JCizzle

      Ooooh, drunk, vacationing milfs!

      November 13, 2010 at 02:46 | Report abuse |
  8. Trance Doodie

    Wrong Doctir, champagne usually has anywhere from 1-5% less alcohol by content than still wines. Get your facts right.

    November 12, 2010 at 23:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Conqui

      Since you want to be picky, YOU ARE WRONG!!. Search internet, you will find that champagne ranges from 8% – 15% alcohol, same range as still wines. And you also need to learn basic math. The difference between 12% alcohol and 10% alcohol is not 2%. The 10% alcohol liquid has 16.7% less alcohol than the 12%. Another show off who only shows off ignorance.

      November 13, 2010 at 04:37 | Report abuse |
    • Todd A

      At Conqui, with all due respect YOU ARE WRONG. Read the post, he says 1-5% by content. Key words here "by content".

      November 13, 2010 at 12:04 | Report abuse |
    • wendell

      That's funny, my wife gets wine all the time and it's 12-13% alcohol. We bought two bottles of Champagne last week and guess what, they are 12% alcohol! I'm sure there are variations but most wine I have purchased is around 12-14%.

      November 13, 2010 at 19:26 | Report abuse |
  9. Ed.

    This sounds like an idea for a future episode of MythBusters.

    November 12, 2010 at 23:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Todd A

    How many people reading and/or posting on this story realize that what most people call Chanpagne is really sparking wine? All Champagnes are sparkling wines but not all sparkling wines are Champagnes. Champagne comes from a specific region in France known as the Champagne region(who'd have thought). It is made with grapes indigenous to that region and is produced using some specific techniques.

    November 13, 2010 at 12:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • WineGuy

      And those native grapes to Champagne are Pinot Noir, Pinot Munier and Chardonnay. The same grapes and the same method of production is used in sparkling wines world wide. Only sparkling wine produced in Champagne can legally be called Champagne.

      November 14, 2010 at 09:12 | Report abuse |
  11. Antonio

    Don't call the drink champagne. It is a sparkling wine. It can only be called champagne if it is produced in the region of Champagne, France.

    November 13, 2010 at 12:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. sowhatwhocares

    Does it matter if it is sparkling wine or champagne? The article is talking about the bubbles which both drinks have. We don't have to be show offs with our SAT like facts...

    November 13, 2010 at 16:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Bob

    I guess it is Ok to abuse Alcohol, no biggy to get drunk and maybe drive or beat your kids.. Alcohol is a dangerous drug. Legal yes, but still a poison and intoxicant.. I am not for bringing back prohibition, cause it does not work, but I am for taking alcohol commercials off the TV.. I believe alcohol is much more dangerous drug than marijuania, but alcohol is legal and advertised as if it were soda.. Who makes these laws??

    November 13, 2010 at 19:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. john negroski

    they should make champane with crack

    November 13, 2010 at 21:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Marc

    I'm sorry, but I'm not buying this untested hypothesis of an explanation. I've seen the weak studies that make the case. Wholly unconvincing.

    November 13, 2010 at 21:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. swimmer23

    LEGALIZE CANNABIS in 2012!!! It's the SAFEST psychoactive drug on the planet! Alcohol kills tens of thousands every year and cannabis kills NO ONE. The government doesn't even keep stats on car crashes involving cannabis use because there aren't enough crashes caused by cannabis use to compile stats on them.

    November 14, 2010 at 03:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Kevin

    Utterly and completely wrong.
    While at Ohio State University in the early '90s, I participated in a study exploring this particular urban legend.
    Various "beverages" were made, (specifically screwdrivers and cape-cods) in specific proportions so that they would have the same alchohol content as the champagne.
    1/4 of the subjects were given champagne, 1/4 were given screwdrivers, 1/4 were given cape cods, and the remaining 1/4 (the control group) were given cola with water+non-alchoholic rum flavoring added (tasted like a rum and coke but no booze).
    Subjects were then given the same amount of drink (amount adjusted for body weight) and then tests of logic, cordination and reaction speeds were administered every 10 minutes as well as breathalyzer tests.
    The results showed there was no difference between the alchoholic drinks when it comes to absorption speed, effects on the human body, or blood alchohol levels.
    I have heard since then that we were not the only University to run tests like this that got the same results.
    I find it suprising that a MD would go around perpetuating a urban legend that has been scientifically disproven.

    November 14, 2010 at 12:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. RW

    Actually this is very true. Carbonation and sugar both cause alcohol to be absorbed faster. That is why a Jack & Coke will make you seem to become more drunk, and faster than drinking Jack alone. It is also why sparkling wine / Champagne have the same effect.

    It is taught in classes for alcohol sales licenses – consideration of sugar and carbonation content of beverages when determining level of intoxication / whether or not to sell another drink to the person.

    This will also explain the draft beer hangover / headache. Carbonation (CO2) is used to push beer through the lines – this in turn causes draft beer to be absorbed faster. Spikes in alcohol levels occur and then you have the draft beer headache.

    This could possibly explain why Kevin's university had similar results with all drinks. They [the drinks] all contained something with sugar, carbonation or both.

    November 14, 2010 at 13:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Peter

    So, why do the bubbles make the alcohol absorb faster? These two short paragraphs don't really explain very much.

    November 14, 2010 at 13:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. HayStella

    Lots of science, but as often occurs, missing some basic logic. I can't speak to the bubbles and thus will take their word on it. I think most folks perception of "getting drunk faster" with Champagne (or sparkling wine) is simple because this is a drink that is often server earlier at parties, and usually without a lot of food to go along with it. Lets face it, those of us that do indulge, all know that they can put a few more away if they are combining it with a full meal. I just think the basic consumption habits around Champagne lean towards folks feeling more tipsy quicker.

    November 14, 2010 at 14:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Champagne

    When serving Champagne at informal gatherings such as barbecues, disposable plastic Champagne flutes might be a good option. There are many designs available at very attractive prices.

    September 12, 2012 at 03:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. BS

    I call BS on this article!!! 1) Beer has bubles too, 2) There are some beers that go all the way into 50% alcohol content by volume, 3) We have yet to see a study that actually proves the BS "claim" that "it's because of the bubbles!"

    February 12, 2014 at 14:13 | Report abuse | Reply

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