As the well known rhyme reminds us, drinking beer after wine is a bad idea. Having made the mistake during my student years more than once and regretting it, why is it that consuming these two beverages in the wrong order causes such effects?
Beer contains a lot of CO2, and CO2 causes the alcohol to 'hit to the head' much faster. This is why champagne has such exhilaration (Rausch) effect.
It's not a good idea to drink any high-CO2 drink after drinking wine or stronger alcohols, and even more discouraged is mixing carbonated water with vodka, for example. Many people have heavily regret such mixing.
As well, it is said you should never drink lighter alcohols after stronger. You can start with beer, than after an hour/2 drink some wine, rest and drink vodka. Never opposite. But the best is to keep one genre of alcohol on one evening. At least so are saying people in Poland.
I have never seen anything solid backing up any rhyme that encourages a particular order.
When it comes to intoxication, there are two things that are definitely relevant:
- The total amount of alcohol consumed
- How fast the alcohol is absorbed
As far as I am concerned, the rest is hearsay and folklore.
There may be some auxiliary "explanations", like people who mix types being more likely to drink more overall, and people drinking different types of alcohol at different rates at different stages of intoxication, but these are not chemical qualities.
Here's one NYT article backing this up. I'm having a hard time finding credible scientific articles about intoxication.
EDIT to add sources (original answer below)
Mythbusters address this in episode 127 - http://mythresults.com/dirty-vs-clean-car - the rate of consumption is what matters, not the order
A hangover caused by beer is less severe than one caused by a mixture of beer and liquor.
To perform this test, Tory and Grant would have to eat the same food, drink their alcohol at the same time, and sleep for the same length of time in the warehouse for consistent results. Kari (who could not take part because of her pregnancy) then devised a battery of tests to measure dehydration, memory, light/sound/motion sensitivity, and coordination. Without having drunk alcohol, Tory and Grant performed well on their control test. They then performed the beer test, with Tory drinking 14 cans of beer and Grant drinking six. They both performed significantly worse than the control tests, signifying they were badly hung over. They then repeated the test with a mixture of beer and liquor, making sure to drink an equivalent amount of alcohol as in the first test. The next morning, Tory and Grant improved significantly and felt much better than in the previous test. Thus, the Build Team declared the myth busted.
NYTimes also addressed this back in 2006 - http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/07/health/the-claim-mixing-types-of-alcohol-makes-you-sick.html
"The pattern, more often, is that people will have beer and then move on to liquor at the end of the night, and so they think it's the liquor that made them sick," he continued. "But simply mixing the two really has nothing to do with it."
In general, the ABV of wine is higher than that of beer, so if you consume a higher ABV after a lower ABV, you will feel its effects faster, but if you're still drinking at the same rate, you won't notice you've had any effect as readily as if you drank at the slower rate more generally associated with the higher ABV beverage.
This seems to more myth than fact. I am not finding anything scientific that CO2 causes faster absorption.
If that was the case you would see carbonated fitness drinks for faster absorption.
There are studies that Champagne go to the head faster but it also has a lot of sugar.
The more like causality is people that mix also just plain drink more.
For me personally I like a shot (or two) of tequila first to get a buzz and then sip beer. I am more likely to burn (most) of it off by the time I go to bed. If you have a belly full of beer there is just a volume of liquid for the body to process and hard liquor on top is just more liquor. You can get stupid with a few beer and then just get even way more stupid with shots as you are numb and the beer dilutes the alcohol so you don't feel the boom. Shots early and you have more immediate and clear feedback you are over drinking.
As for wine it has about the same effect on me and the alcohol difference is not that great. I just don't like the taste of mixing them in one evening.
There are studies that higher percentage drinks are absorbed faster and it make sense as the body is processing a smaller volume for the alcohol.