It's Not Just in Your Head: Sparkling Wine May Get You Drunk Faster

Looks like there's some truth behind getting "prosecco drunk" after all.

People toasting with champagne glasses
Photo: JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

You may have heard the term "prosecco drunk," which defines the nearly instantaneous giddy feeling you might experience after drinking bubbly, but is there any science to back it up? Research from several studies shows there could actually be some validity behind the phrase.

In 2003, a team from the University of Surrey studied how quickly alcohol entered the blood of 12 participants after drinking Champagne (proportional to each participant's body weight). Half the group was given flat Champagne to drink, while the other half was given bubbly Champagne from a fresh bottle. The alcohol levels of those who drank from the fresh bottle of Champagne increased faster than those who drank the flat sparkling wine. The scientists repeated the study again the next week, switching which group drank the flat Champagne, and they got the same results for the new group of fresh bubbly drinkers.

The problem with this study is that it was very small and the difference in blood alcohol levels lasted for only about 20 minutes. However, another group of researchers from the University of Manchester conducted a similar study four years later that garnered comparable results.

The researchers gave 21 participants either a neat vodka, vodka with water or vodka with carbonated water on three separate occasions (participants were given a different drink each time). The alcohol was consumed within five minutes following an overnight fast and participants had to use a breathalyzer several times over the next four hours to monitor their BAC levels. Those who drank the fizzy vodka beverage saw a 50% increased rate of alcohol absorption, on average. Although, one-third of the participants didn't experience an increased rate—three even experienced a reverse effect—from drinking the bubbly vodka drink.

So, it looks like the case isn't exactly closed on whether or not "prosecco drunk" is a real thing, but there is a decent argument for it. Feeling "prosecco drunk" is possible, but it's likely a temporary experience for the first 20 to 30 minutes you start drinking. It's also important to remember sparkling wine is often reserved for special occasions when we might be feeling more excitable, nervous or happy than usual.

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