Head Games: Bursting a Few Bubbly Myths

You go to my head
And you linger like a haunting refrain
And I find you spinning ’round in my brain
Like the bubbles in a glass of champagne

Haven Gillespie wrote the lyrics, J. Fred Coots penned the music, and Billie Holiday made “You Go to My Head” her own.

The song was written in 1936, and ever since, there has been talk about how Champagne seems to “kick in” more quickly than any other type of wine…white, red, rosé or dessert.

It’s an assertion that the people who live in the Champagne region of France, where the only “real” Champagne is made, will not dispute. Over a glass of bubbly, they’ll tell you those bubbles cause the alcohol in the wine to absorb more quickly in the body. Thus, even with a similar or even lower alcohol level than is found in many still wines, sparkling wine will “go to the head” faster.

Sounds logical…but is it true?

In a Tribune Newspaper story written by Amy Hubbard, University of Scranton (Pa.) chemistry professor Joe Vinson said sparkling wine prompts “more rapid and greater blood-alcohol level” than still wine.

No wonder Champagne is the “party drink” of choice among so many celebrities—people who can pay those high three-figure prices without batting a false eyelid.

But for us commoners who are simply seeking to enjoy a nice glass of wine while getting our noses gently tickled, is there anything that can be done to combat the ill effects of Champagne?

Good news: Yes!

Here are a few tips to embrace before uncorking that Champagne bottle…

  1. Like any other alcoholic beverage, Champagne can cause dehydration, and dehydration can lead to a doozy of a headache. To avoid the pain, have a glass of water along with that glass of bubbly.
  2. To slow the impact of the Champagne, eat before drinking. When there’s food in the stomach, “everything slows down,” Professor Vinson explains.
  3. If you forget to eat beforehand or drink water along with your Champagne, have a glass of water before you go to bed. It may not prevent a hangover, but it will help limit its severity.
  4. Avoid the cheap stuff. As noted on the “Frank About Food” blog, very inexpensive sparkling wine often is made with bottom-of-the-barrel wine that’s mixed with sugar to “mask the horrible flavor.” In such cases, it’s likely the sugar that’s causing the headache.

Miss Holiday, would you kindly pick up the song where you left off?

You go to my head
Like a sip of sparkling Burgundy brew
And I find the very mention of you
Like the kicker in a julep or two

Okay, don’t even get me started on mint juleps…

Posted in Wine and Health, Wine Tips
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