How to Avoid (or Cure) a Hangover
Hangover: The Wrath of Grapes
It’s another one of THOSE mornings. You open one eye and think, “What time is it? Why can’t I open my other eye? Oh, my head!” You roll over and pretend like you’re fine, but sadly it is becoming clear that you are most definitely not fine.
Fatigue, weakness, excessive thirst, nausea, and a sensitivity to light or sound are all very common symptoms brought on by a case of potentially imbibing too much the night before, aka a hangover. When these dreaded, some might say downright evil, hangover symptoms occur, one may begin to wonder if the amount of booze consumed the night before was truly worth the morning's level of discomfort.
Some questions one may ask themselves when waking up with a hangover are: how long is this hangover going to last? What is the best food to kill a hangover? Are you really supposed to drink water before you go to bed after a night of boozy fun? How do I cure a red wine headache or other types of hangover? And what can I do to prevent a wine hangover next time around (because we both know there will be a next time)?
You may have heard that sulfites in wine cause “red wine headaches,” but that simply isn't the case. Take, for example, dried fruits, like apricots and mangos, these contain 5-10 times more sulfites than wine! White wines tend to have more sulfites than red wine. Further, less than one percent of the population is truly allergic to or intolerant of sulfites. More likely, the hangover you’re experiencing is caused by not taking precaution beforehand.
Here is a list of my top five tips to sidestep a hangover when you plan on drinking and the ever-necessary steps for when it’s too late for prevention, and you need the best way to cure a hangover. Don’t worry, we’ll get through this.
Top Five Ways to Avoid a Hangover Before It Happens
Red wine headaches can be terrible, especially if you’re drinking red wine with a high alcohol content or “cheap” mass-produced wine. For every glass of wine you have, aim to drink the same amount of water, if not more. There is a reason that people get less hungover in Europe; it is because they sip on tea or water along with their boozy beverage of choice. One thing I have personally found very effective is to mix my water with a super hydrator and electrolyte replenisher. This extra hydration is a great way to get yourself back on track if you haven’t hit that 1:1 ratio.
Snacking and meals are another easy hangover prevention method. Make sure you have dinner and/or heavy appetizers and snacks, both before and during your drinking. Eating before you drink will help soak up some of that wine or tequila. It’s common to not take the time to eat when you’re out on the town, but more often than not, your body is begging for some solid munchies to join the party. Get friendly and fancy with it, and plan out a potluck charcuterie with pairings to complement your pours!
3. Pace Yourself!
Pace yourself? Really? What if I’m not in the mood to pace myself? At times, this may feel easier said than done, but swapping out every other round with water or a little soda will keep you in the game without feeling like you’re being benched.
4. Avoid Mixing Different Alcohols!
Mixing all sorts of alcohol can cause a hangover of epic proportions. I’d recommend not having more than two cocktails before switching over to wine or beer. Keep it simple and stick to similar types of booze and alcohol content.
5. Hydrate (again)!
Hangover prevention numbers one and five are the same for a reason, and that reason is simple. Having water before, during, and after a night of drinking is the surest way to avoid a hangover.
Oops! I Did It Again…
My Best Advice to Cure a Hangover
Fast-forward to the next morning; it’s too late, the damage is done, and you wake up feeling 10/10 horrible. A red wine hangover may be to blame, but it is not just red wine that makes people feel terrible the morning after drinking. It’s time to bring in the big dogs and kick the hangover to the curb.
Remember all that talk about hydration in the "hangover prevention" section of this post? Well, it's back! However, the morning after, you might want to drink more than just water. Try these instead: Pedialyte, sports drinks, Liquid I.V., a large soda, or coffee (believe it or not, caffeine really helps). All of these can assist in your road to recovery. I also think if your stomach is up for it, a glass of cold Kombucha, particularly one with tummy-tending ginger, can do wonders for a stomach hangover.
While you’re at the fast-food drive-through picking up your hangover recovery drink, grab a burger and fries. Oftentimes, indulging in a greasy burger, burrito, or bacon and eggs as hangover food can help put some pep back in your step. I have friends that swear by the burger and soda method, and “only drink soda when hungover.” These said friends are professionals, and I have used this method many times myself.
If possible, get as much sleep as you can after a night of drinking. Sleeping in or catching a midday nap during the ball game can stop your hangover in its tracks. After all, what’s more important than beauty sleep?
4. Call In Reinforcements!
Advil, Alka Seltzer, milk thistle, vitamin B, and even activated charcoal are all great ways to cure a hangover. Pain relievers that contain caffeine can help relieve that nasty red wine headache in a flash. Alka Seltzer can be the ultimate hangover relief for some people because of its fizzy stomach-settling effects and even has a hangover-specific package simply called "Morning Relief" (you’re welcome!). These remedies contain baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), which can help settle a queasy stomach, and aspirin to help a throbbing head. Milk thistle can help to detoxify the liver, which can be crucial after a night of drinking. Vitamin B is known to have a direct effect on energy levels and brain function, and promote cell health.
If your stomach is part of your hangover, and you don’t think you can down an Alka-Seltzer, activated charcoal can help; although there isn’t much in terms of scientific proof on this one, many people swear by it!
5. Hair of the Dog
There are times where you’ve tried a combination of the aforementioned hangover cures, and they just don’t cut it. The last resort for your hangover relief is a little hair of the dog that bit you. A light mimosa, Bloody Mary, or red beer (light beer with a splash of Bloody Mary mix) can help level you out, or, as my BFF and I say, get you “back to zero!” Oftentimes, the alcohol withdrawal can be far worse than just getting back on the wagon for a quick hangover drink.
In conclusion, truly the best way to avoid and recover from a hangover is hydration and keeping a good balance of snacks and electrolytes onhand. Alcohol is known to quickly dehydrate, and if you’re not replacing that hydration in your body, you’re setting yourself up for a hangover from hell.
About the Author:
IGT Virtual Tasting Host
Worked in the wine industry for years in NYC both for a small import company and a high end wine store in Manhattan.
San Francisco Bay Area based wine lover and virtual tasting host for In Good Taste Wines. When not busy hosting virtual tastings Hillary spends her time mastering her skills in the kitchen, creating delicious cocktail recipes, and enjoying her two children.