Science Says That Bubbly Does Indeed Get You Drunk Quicker

We all know that the correct way to drink bubbly (whether it's prosecco or champagne) is in a pretty, sparkly fluted glass. Right? Science says, though, if you're interested in not getting drunk quite as fast, then a fluted glass is the last thing you want to drink from.

Back in 2001, Dr. Fran Ridout, who was with the University of Surrey in England at the time, did an experiment to see if colloquial evidence about sparkling wine getting someone drink faster was true.


She threw what must have been an awesome party for 12 lucky volunteers, each of whom received two glasses of bubbly. All sorts of controls were put into place, including accounting for proportion of alcohol to body weight so that each party-goer was exposed to the same amount of alcohol.

The only difference was that half the guests received champagne with the bubbles in full effect, while the other half received flat champagne which had had the bubbles whisked out of it.

She and her team of researchers gave each guest a test to measure the impact of the drinks, as well as looking at their blood alcohol level.


Ridout discovered that the guests who consumed the still-fizzy drink had alcohol levels on average of 0.54 milligrams of alcohol per milliliter of blood after five minutes, compared to 0.39 for the guests with the flat drink.

By the end of the 40-minute experiment, the level for the first group was an average of 0.7 milligrams per milliliter, compared to 0.58 for guests drinking the flat bubbly.

Ridout noted that people who drank the still-bubbly sparkling drink were noticeably more impaired, with worse reaction times and ability to accomplish simple tasks like writing.


To make sure that the results were correct, the researchers invited the same 12 people back for the same experiment, but swapped who got the bubbles and who got the flat drinks. The results were the same—the group with more bubbles became more impaired, more quickly.

Scientists still don't know why this effect happens. Alcohol impairs you when it enters your bloodstream, which happens most once the liquid reaches your intestines.  It could be that with a sparkling drink you absorb more through your mouth from the bubbles bursting, or that the carbonation moves the alcohol through your system faster.

We're not saying you have to drink flat bubbly to enjoy a party, but if you expect to (responsibly, please) drink more than a bit of champagne or prosecco, drinking out of a shallow goblet just might save you from getting drunk quite as fast.

Watch: Prosecco Pong Isn't Your Uncle's Beer Pong