Wine before liquor

Evidence based

Wine Before Liquor: Does It Make A Difference?

Afterdrink Author Kathy Caldwell
Kathy Caldwell


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Evidence based

Can you drink wine before liquor or visa versa? It’s a surprisingly common question and one that doesn’t exactly have a straightforward answer.

With so many alcohol-related rhymes out there, it’s hard to keep track of them all. And it’s even harder to know which one (if any) are actually true.

You’re having a few glasses of wine at dinner and are now thinking of moving on to some liquor. Now you’re wondering whether it’s OK to drink wine before liquor or not. We’ve all been there…

In this article, we’ll clear up some of the confusion around whether you can drink wine before liquor. We’ll also go into whether these drinks mix well or if it has any effect on your hangovers.

Table of contents

Wine before liquor saying

The saying (or rhyme) goes: wine before liquor, never sicker

So, it’s pretty clear what the saying is trying to say. If you drink wine before liquor, you’re going to feel sick. You may also interpret this as wine before liquor will give you a bad hangover.

But is there any truth to this rhyme? Or is it just another alcohol-related myth that’s been passed down from generation to generation?

To find out, we need to go over the difference between the two types of alcohol to see if mixing them causes problems.

Difference between wine and liquor

Wine is made by fermenting grapes. After this, some wines are aged in barrels.

On the other hand, liquor is made from various types of grain. For example, whiskey is made from barley, and vodka is made from corn or rye. That said, there are several different grains that are used to make these liquours.

The main ingredient in wine and liquor is alcohol. Technically called ethanol. The reason why they taste vastly different is because of the grape or grain used to make them and because of congeners.

Congeners are compounds that are formed during the fermentation and maturation process of wines and liquor. Congeners also contribute to the taste and aroma of these drinks.

So, with the basics out the way, let’s get into whether you should drink wine before or after liquor.

Should you drink wine before or after liquor?

The quick answer to this question is, it makes no difference.

At the end of the day, they are both types of alcohol and there is nothing in the two that “reacts”.

In fact, a research group from Cambridge even tested whether mixing different types of alcohol causes problems. And they found no difference.(1)

In fairness, the study was carried out with beer and wine. However, the underlying principles stay the same.

In summary: Don’t stress about which way round you drink wine or liquor because it doesn’t make a difference!

Wine before liquor and hangovers

The saying “wine before liquor, never sicker” comes down to whether mixing these drinks causes worse hangovers or not.

And the answer is, the mixing of the two drinks is not the problem. Ultimately, the amount of alcohol you’re drinking is all that matters.

Also if you’re planning to mix these drinks, the chances are you’re having a big night out. In most cases, starting with wine early on and then moving onto the hard stuff.

So the likelihood is that whoever came up with the saying, mistakenly thought that the reason for their hangover was because he or she drank wine before liquor. Not the fact that they had five glasses of wine and eight tequila shots.

The other thing to consider is that red wine and darker colored liquor usually cause worse hangovers anyway. And you need much less of each to wake up with a hangover compared to lighter colored drinks.


It’s all because of congeners. We mentioned earlier that congeners are responsible for some of the taste and aroma of your drinks. Unfortunately, they make hangovers a lot worse too. You can read more about this in our article about congeners and hangovers.

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Can you mix liquor and wine?

In a similar fashion, mixing wine and liquor on a night out shouldn’t cause any problems.

The only thing that matters is how much of each you’re drinking.

Does drinking wine before liquor make you sick?

You’ve probably guessed the answer to this question already. Seeing as there is no interaction between wine and liquor, it shouldn’t make you sick.

That said, if you have enough of each then, of course, you’ll feel sick.

It’s especially the case if you’re having wine with dinner and are feeling full. Moving onto liquor may not sit well in your stomach because you’re stomach is full.

It doesn’t mean that the wine and liquor are the cause of you feeling sick. Rather the fact that you’re stomach is struggling to deal with all the food and liquid.

Wine before liquor – Takeaway points

That brings us to the end of our look into the saying “wine before liquor, never sicker”.

And you may be pleased to hear that it doesn’t have any truth to it. Whether you want to drink wine before or after liquor doesn’t make a difference.

Mixing the two shouldn’t make you sick and they don’t interact. So, the famous rhyme that you’ve heard from others doesn’t actually have any basis for it.

The caveat to that is the amount of alcohol you’re drinking. If you’ve had several glasses of wine and are now moving onto liquor, then clearly, there is a chance you’ll feel sick.

But that’s not because of the mixing of wine and liquor per se. Rather the volume of alcohol you’re drinking.

On that note, check out our article about wine hangovers and how to beat them.

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