The Dreaded Hangover

the-dreaded-hangoverMost people who consume alcohol sooner or later have the experience of taking in just a wee bit too much during a party or celebration. The result is quite often that most dreaded of morning-after discomforts: the hangover.

What is a hangover exactly, and how can we increase our enjoyment of alcoholic beverages by avoiding the sometimes unpleasant after-effects?

What Is A Hangover?

People experiencing hangovers manifest diverse symptoms, from headache, to nausea and vomiting, to fatigue and dehydration. Dehydration is, by the way, one of the main reasons for a hangover. Hangovers can make it difficult to get out of bed, to get to work or school, or to perform essential tasks. Feelings of irritability and dizziness can impede work and school performance.

Hangovers are caused by the presence of a toxic chemical, ethanol, in alcoholic drinks. This chemical not only causes the “high” feeling we experience when we drink but is also a diuretic that causes you to urinate more frequently, thus becoming dehydrated and experiencing some of the mentioned symptoms. As it moves through your digestive track, ethanol is absorbed in the blood. Your liver must process the ethanol and remove it from your blood. More alcohol than the liver can filter means it travels to throughout our bodies, including to the brain, creating that drunk feeling.

Organic  molecules produced during the fermentation process, including methanol, tannins, acetone, esters and other compounds — all of which contribute to the taste and aroma of alcoholic drinks — may also add to the hangover symptoms of grogginess or headache. The presence of higher levels of these substances, also called “congeners,” can make a headache or other symptoms worse. Tests seem to indicate that although the level of congeners has little impact on performance, more congeners do make hangovers worse. For instance, vodka has fewer congeners than bourbon, and thus bourbon appears twice as likely to cause sickness as the same amount of vodka.

You may have heard that champagne and sparkling wine can induce a worse hangover than other types of wine. Although scientists are not sure why, this may be true. It’s something about the bubbles. Bubbles in sparkling drinks are, after all, carbon dioxide, which helps you absorb the alcohol faster. thus magnifying the hangover. One way to cut down on the number of bubbles consumed is to serve champagne in a glass with a wider bowl rather than a flute. The wider bowl allows more bubbles to escape, so you don’t get drunk as fast, and the potential for hangover will be diminished.

All types of alcoholic drinks, be it hard liquor, wine or beer, can give you a hangover. The key for avoiding a hangover is to avoid consuming too much alcohol.

Avoiding Hangovers

Everyone has a different threshold for tolerating alcohol, but the low-risk practices listed below are helpful for all sippers of alcoholic beverages for avoiding hangovers.

  • Keep track of the number of drinks and ounces of alcohol you consume. There are guidelines for body weight to help promote lower-risk consumption habits.
  • Food slows down your alcohol absorption rate. Always eat before you drink.
  • Avoid “rounds” or “flights,” which make it harder to track your consumption.
  • Drink water between alcoholic beverages to counter dehydration.
  • Stop drinking alcohol well before you plan to depart from an event or before you go to bed. Give your body time to metabolize the alcohol before bedtime so you can fall asleep.

You can enjoy champagne or any kind of alcoholic beverage without concern for a hangover if you develop drinking practices that minimize exposures to health or safety risks.

Identifying Different Types of Champagne

Identifying Different Types of Champagne

There is a fine line that can be drawn between champagne and sparkling wine. While sparkling wine can come from anywhere in the world, champagne can only come from the Northern France region of Champagne. The fizzy cocktail comes in many varieties, but it is not as hard to tell them apart as you may think. There are a few ways you can identify the subtle differences in this increasingly popular drink.

Non-Vintage Champagne

Non-vintage champagne is made every single year by producers, whether the harvest is good or bad. When poured into a glass, this brand’s bubbles dissipate quickly and will have a very distinct taste of citrus flavors. Honeysuckle and candied orange peel will cover your tongue with its acidic backbone and it comes from a different blend of wines.

Vintage Champagne

Vintage champagne is different than non-vintage in the sense that it is only produced in years that are considered to have a very good harvest. To give the champagne its complexity, only the current year’s grapes are used to produce this wine. Fermentation comes from the aging process when the wine is in close contact with the yeast, adding certain characteristics to the wine. When you open a bottle of vintage champagne, you will notice a more pronounced aroma of yeast on your nose and it will have a strong breadiness taste to it.

Tete de Cuvee, or Prestige Champagne

This is the best wine that a champagne producer will yield. Tete de Cuvee means Head Of The Year and these fine wines are only made every three to four times in a decade, during exceptional years only. Brands such as Dom Perignon carry this prestigious title and if you have ever had a glass of Dom, you will notice that the bubbles are much smaller and will linger for a considerable period of time. Prestige champagnes have a scent that is reminiscent of ripe peaches and fresh baked bread. These wines are also aged for a longer time in order to mature them beyond any other vintage brands.

Rose Champagne

There are several champagne houses that produce Rose Champagne. Since two of the grapes used to make this wine are red, exposure to the skins of these grapes are all that is needed to produce a Rose Champagne. The smooth citrus scent will heighten your sense of smell when you open a bottle of Rose, and you will notice a strong peach and under-ripened strawberry aroma accompanied by mild yeast tones.

Becoming a champagne connoisseur isn’t as difficult as it once seemed to be. Distinction among the various wines is rather easy to dictate once you know what to look out for. So, the next time you are in the wine aisle and are looking for a good bottle of celebratory champagne, you will now be equipped to make an educated and informed decision.