Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Planning Ahead for Wine Drinking - Ways to Help with the Morning After

Wine is fun. Wine is frolic. Parties and vacations are planned around wine. Elaborate meals are carefully planned to find those stellar food and wine pairings. People drink wine, discuss wine, buy wine, drink wine and study wine. Amongst all that fun is that small element of downside... the morning after. Hangovers make great movies, but can really spoil that next day.   
Uhhhhh.... Help Me!

While there is no way to completely avoid or totally cure any hangover - here are a few tips that should at least provide some relief.  Much like the time you spent planning a great party or great meal, or selecting a great wine or wines at your favorite restaurant - take a little time to plan for hangover prevention (and perhaps a bit of cure).  None of these tips will keep you from losing teeth or getting face tattoos - that is completely up to you and your Wolf Pack.
I Knew I Should Drink Any of that F'in Merlot!

Considerations to help avoid an epic hangover.

Drink Slowly.  Pace yourself and drink slowly - wine is meant to be savored and contemplated - not chugged.  Whether at a party or a wine dinner, take time to enjoy the wine and engage others in discussion about the wine and how it pairs with the food.
Not Wise to Skip the Sip and Savor Steps

Drink Water.  Dehydration is one of the factors that can make your morning after less than enjoyable. Try and down a glass of water per alcoholic drink to combat dehydration.

Sleepy Time.  Before retiring for the night - have another glass of water and pop a couple of your favorite pain relievers like Advil or Tylenol to help combat a hangover headache.
Please Save Me!

Know Thyself. As you experiment with various wines, you may notice impacts certain wines have on you - either when drinking or the morning after. Red and White wines contain sulfites that some have problems with (headaches, etc). Red wines have histamines which can give you a runny nose or other impacts (whites have some, but reds have more due to the skin contact during fermentation).  If you have reactions to certain types of wine, avoid those in quantity as you will likely pay the next day.  Reactions to sulfites and histamines aside, high alcohol, highly tannic reds will tend to impact you the most.

Trust the French. The cheese course of a meal (more common in France than in the US) is not only delicious, it is practical as well. Fatty foods like cheese will help slow the body's absorption of alcohol.  You need to eat the fatty foods before or during the drinking - although they may taste great the next day, fatty foods won't do anything to help once the hangover is in place.
Mmmm... Cheesy!

Careful with Mixing.  Be careful with not only throwing hard liquor into the mix, but switching to beer or even switching between white and red wines can have an impact - stick with one type of wine for the best results.
Hmmm...Oh Well, I Didn't Have Plans Tomorrow Anyway!

Drink Good Stuff. Less expensive wines can have a larger amount of additives that can impact how you feel the next day. Quality wine will typically be made with better quality grapes, with a better process (e.g. fewer stems, leaves, creatures in the fermentation process), and fewer additives.  Many years ago I made beer at home, with just the basic ingredients and nothing in the way of additives or preservatives - and I could tell a definite difference in the hangover department.

Be Careful with Dessert Wines.  Some of my biggest blunders have occurred late in the night when a great meal has been served, or a great party is winding down - and out comes the dessert wine.  Sweet, great tasting - not what your willpower, weakened by early indulging needs. Many dessert wines such as Port, Madeira, and Sherries are fortified, meaning that extra alcohol is added. Other dessert wines are made from late harvest grapes - meaning more sugar is present to be converted into alcohol during fermentation.  A whole night of carefully managing your hangover can be thrown out the window with a couple glasses of this delicious but dangerous stuff. 

Breakfast of Champions.  No matter what condition you wake up in the next day - breakfast  is always the most important meal of the day!  Eggs contain large amounts of cysteine, a substance that breaks down hangover-causing acetaldehyde in the liver. Bananas are a great source of potassium to replace any depleted during a night of imbibing. Also, continue with the hydration, either with water or fruit juices.  Be careful with coffee - although the caffeine may give you a boost, coffee is also a diuretic that will further dehydrate you.  The fructose in fruit juice will give you a boost as well, without the downside of coffee.
Incredible... Edible...

Hair of the Dog. Just say no to this one. Next time a dog bites you - eat some of its hair. Feel better? Didn't think so - and you probably won't with the last bit of Cabernet left in the bottom of a leftover bottle.
Uh... No Thanks!

Magic Pills.  I have never personally tried any of the magical hangover pills, but most are just vitamin supplements - and you will likely benefit more from the water you drink to take the pill than the pill itself.  Forget these, and follow the other pointers listed here for a more reliable, and cheaper, alternative.

Just remember - when you are out with your best buds - enjoy yourself, but keep in mind you may want to enjoy the next day as well. Otherwise - those day afters can get a little...strange!!

Want to test your knowledge of alcohol and impacts on your body? Try this quiz

Any other tips or tricks to share - please comment below.  Thanks!

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