A glass of red wine, not a vodka soda, is likely to elicit feelings of calmness, according to a new study.
Different kinds of alcohol — red or white wine, beer and liquor — bring out different feelings and emotions in people. Red wine was most often associated with relaxation and hard liquor with aggression, researchers from King’s College London found.
“For centuries, the history of rum, gin, vodka and other spirits has been laced with violence,” the study’s co-author Mark Bellis said in a statement. “This global study suggests even today consuming spirits is more likely to result in feelings of aggression than other drinks.”
About 30,000 people from 21 countries between the ages of 18 and 34 answered questions for the study about their drinking habits for the past year. They detailed how they felt while drinking different kinds of alcohol by choosing from a list that included energized, relaxed, sexy, confident, tired, aggressive, ill, restless and tearful.
The study found that drinking liquor was most often related to feeling energized and confident for 60% of its participants. About 53% of people said red wine relaxed them but also made them feel tired, and 50% said beer made them feel relaxed, too.
Hard liquor also made 43% of those polled feel sexy, but 30% said they associated it with aggression.
The links between alcohol and emotions also revealed interesting details about alcoholism. Those who were considered alcohol-dependent were five times more likely than non-dependent drinkers to say that alcohol energized them, according to the study. They were also six times more likely to say they felt aggression while drinking any type of alcohol.
“Understanding emotions associated with alcohol consumption is imperative to addressing alcohol misuse, providing insight into what emotions influence drink choice between different groups in the population,” the research, published in the journal BMJ Open, reads.
The authors of the study note that they don’t know why exactly these associations exist but that they might be influenced by brain chemistry or the atmosphere in which the drinks are consumed — like doing shots at a bar with friends versus lounging on the couch at home.