If you need a drink to get through family gatherings this holiday season, you might want to skip the cocktail and go for the merlot. According to a new study, different varieties of alcohol—liquor, red and white wine, and beer—may trigger different emotions. Hard liquor, for example, most often elicited aggression; red wine, relaxation. It’s not totally clear why this is, but there are likely both physiological and psychological explanations. And though the study might sound like it provides just some fun trivia, it actually may reveal a lot about why people may drink in the first place, and why some become dependent.
The researchers looked at data from the Global Drug Study, a huge multinational survey on alcohol and drug use, both legal and illegal. They focused on 30,000 people aged 18 to 34, in 21 countries, who reported drinking all of the drinks of interest at some point over the last year: beer, red wine, white wine, and liquor/spirits. The researchers were interested in the participants’ typical drinking habits, and what emotions each type of alcohol tended to elicit, including positive ones (“energized,” “relaxed,” “sexy” and “confident”) and negative (“tired,” “aggressive,” “ill,” “restless” and “tearful”).
Red wine was the most soothing of the libations: about 53% of the participants said it made them feel relaxed. (It was also linked to feeling tired—more than white wine.) And beer was a close second, with 50% of participants reporting that beer made them feel