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Does champagne get you drunk faster than other alcohol?

“My mum told me that champagne gets you drunk faster than other drinks. Is that true, and if it is, why?”

It has long been believed that champagne gets you drunk faster, causing you to become gigglier and more light-headed than if you consumed similar amounts of other types of alcohol. Although this has always been thought to be due to the large number of bubbles present in the drink, it has only been recently that this theory was tested to discover whether it was true or not.

In a study examining why people seem to get intoxicated faster drinking champagne, researchers gave the drink to 12 volunteers. Half drank freshly poured champagne and the other half had flat champagne, with the bubbles removed beforehand. They repeated the experiment the following week, with each volunteer now given the opposite kind of champagne. That way, everyone tried both types. Their tests showed that while the flat champagne drinkers only had 0.39 mg of alcohol in their system after five minutes, those who were drinking the bubbly stuff already had 0.54 mg. These ‘drunker’ individuals did not do as well on the tests given to them and were visibly worse for wear.

Scientists still aren’t completely sure about why this is the case but most agree that it is indeed likely to do with the bubbles. Some believe the carbon dioxide in the bubbles helps the alcohol get digested more quickly – increasing the flow of alcohol into the intestines. This means it speeds up the rate that alcohol gets into the blood and to your brain, resulting in faster intoxication.

So, it looks like your Mum is correct, champagne can get you drunk faster than other drinks. Research suggests that it has something to do with the bubbles but no-one knows for sure the exact process that leads to this effect.

First published: May 2021

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