Does Wine Dehydrate You?

Unravel the truth about wine and dehydration. Next Health clarifies the relationship and difference between alcohol and hydration. Contact us today for details.

Does Wine Dehydrate You?
Next Health Staff
|
January 3, 2024

Alcoholic beverages like wine have their pleasures, but drinking too much wine or other alcohol in short order can leave you feeling dizzy, tired, and even with a headache. All of these are common symptoms of dehydration, which is why many people believe that wine dehydrates you after you drink it.

Even though wine contains some amount of water no matter what, wine indeed dehydrates you to a certain extent if you drink it without matching each serving with a glass of water in turn. Today, let’s explore why wine dehydrates you and investigate ways to curb the dehydrating effects of this beverage so you can enjoy a refreshing glass of wine from time to time without excessive side effects.

Alcohol and Dehydration

Maybe you’ve heard this classic myth: you shouldn’t drink alcohol if you are dehydrated and extremely thirsty, as doing so could make you even thirstier in the long run. What about wine specifically?

To understand how wine dehydrates you, we have to break down the dehydrating effects of alcohol overall. In truth, there isn’t a single reason why alcohol is generally dehydrating; instead, several reasons combine to make alcoholic beverages less than suitable if you need to rehydrate yourself after a workout or several hours without water.

Fast Intestinal Absorption

For starters, if you drink wine while on an empty stomach, your intestines will absorb the alcoholic content and the liquid very quickly. Since there isn't any food to get in the way, this will result in your body absorbing what water is already in the wine, leaving the alcohol in your system by itself.

You may need to urinate shortly after drinking a glass of wine on an empty stomach. In fact, drinking wine on an empty stomach could leave you with a buzz within just a couple of minutes!

When this occurs, you’ll urinate some of the water your body had stored beforehand, leaving you more dehydrated than you were before. This is somewhat similar to how coffee can lead to fast urination, although wine is generally more dehydrating because of the effects below as well.

Slowed Metabolism

While the body’s intestines rapidly absorb alcohol, it is metabolized much more slowly. Your body’s metabolic rate may be able to turn some amount of the alcohol into nutrients or energy, but it only occurs at a rate of about one glass of wine per hour.

Because of this, you can also feel sluggish, drained, or tired even though the alcohol technically has some carbohydrates in each glass your body should be able to use for quick energy.

Reduced Vasopressin Production

Vasopressin is a so-called “antidiuretic hormone.” In a nutshell, antidiuretic hormones like vasopressin help your body hold on to water, reducing dehydration and storing water for later use if you aren’t constantly drinking.

Unfortunately, alcohol reduces the natural production of vasopressin in your body. Therefore, your body becomes less adept at holding on to water over time. This, in turn, could slow down the urine production of your kidneys, which means you’ll pass the wine out of your system more slowly as well.

This is one reason why drinking water with wine leaves you with a less potent or faster buzz. If you drink wine without water, your buzz is likely to be stronger and last for longer. But you may also encounter negative or uncomfortable side effects because reduced vasopressin leads to dehydration.

Increased Sweating

Lastly, you may become mildly dehydrated from wine and similar high alcohol content beverages through sweat (though this is ultimately minor compared to the other effects above).

The alcohol and sugar in wine take your body a good amount of energy to break down compared to simpler foods or beverages. Because your body has to use extra energy to break down the wine contents, your body’s core temperature may also increase. If you are wearing multiple layers or in a warm environment, you could induce a light sweat if you drink multiple glasses of wine in a row.

This is not likely to cause dehydration by itself, but in conjunction with the other side effects above, it could lead to a mild dehydration effect.

Is Wine or Beer More Dehydrating?

A good rule of thumb is that the higher the beverage’s alcohol content, the more dehydrating.

This makes sense when you consider the diuretic effect of alcohol on your body and its vasopressin production. For example, an average bottle or glass of beer has an alcohol content concentration of three to seven percent. On the other hand, wine is usually closer to around 11 to 14 percent alcohol content per glass.

But wine is nothing compared to liquor, in which a single one and a half-ounce shot may contain up to 70 percent alcohol content.

But because wine has a higher alcohol content than most types of beer, it’s more dehydrating than the latter. In addition, beer usually has more water content as beer is typically served in more ounces per glass or bottle than wine, which may be as little as five ounces or so per glass.

Should You Drink Wine If You’re Thirsty?

This is the million-dollar question at the heart of the urban legend “wine makes you dehydrated”.

The answer: it depends on your situation. Are you stuck on a desert island with only a bottle of wine to drink and no fresh water in sight?

In that case, drinking the wine is best if you want to survive. If the wine is at an average 13 percent alcohol content like most wines, its equilibrium point may leave you dehydrated in theory, but it’ll still be better than not drinking anything at all. In other words, you’d be about as dehydrated drinking the wine as you would not be drinking anything, period.

But what if you aren’t in an extreme situation but are instead just looking to deal with a headache or get ready for another round at a party? In those cases, you should avoid wine because of its dehydrating effects. If you want to stay buzzed but don’t want to be as dehydrated, grab a bottle of beer instead.

How Much Wine Can You Drink Before You’re Dehydrated?

That depends on your stomach content and the alcohol concentration in the wine itself.

Generally, if you have already eaten a meal or if you are drinking a glass of wine with your meal, you won’t experience many of the effects of dehydration, if any. However, if you have an empty stomach, a single glass of wine will cause mild dehydration if you don’t follow it up with a glass of water within the hour.

The side effects of mild dehydration could include a slight headache, a little dizziness, or a dry mouth. But the side effects shouldn’t be overly negative, either. You won’t see the major effects of dehydration from drinking too much wine – though you’ll likely experience the side effects of a major hangover instead!

If you’ve eaten some food and have consumed a glass of water, you can drink a few glasses of wine before you start to feel the effects of mild to moderate dehydration. Of course, the more you urinate, the faster you’ll become dehydrated if you keep following up with more glasses of wine.

How to Alleviate Wine’s Dehydrating Effects?

Drink water!

It seems simple, but water truly is the best beverage when it comes to fast rehydration. It’s very easy for your body to process and for your intestines to absorb. If you drink a glass of water for each glass of wine you down, you may never feel the effects of dehydration at all (and you’ll still get a slight, though pleasant, buzz).

But if you’re in danger of a hangover or are already in the throes of this unpleasant but common alcohol aftereffect, you can try treatments like Next Health’s IV Drip Therapy.

In fact, our locations offer a dedicated IV drip therapy for hangovers and their common symptoms. Our Hangover IV therapy starts with a Myer’s cocktail base, which includes a mixture of fluids, electrolytes, and other great stuff the body can always use.

The Hangover IV is extra hydrating as well, as we know that many of the common symptoms of hangovers are directly due to dehydration. As a side note, that's one of the reasons why one of the best at-home hangover cures is a few glasses of water as soon as you wake up and have a headache.

IV therapy from Next Health is quick and simple; you just show up to one of our locations, take a seat in our comfortable IV lounge, and rest and relax while our staff members take care of your IV drip set up. In a few minutes, you’ll feel the effects of the IV drip therapy and may experience your hangover symptoms vanish into the ether.

Summary

As you can see, wine can dehydrate you if you drink it on an empty stomach or if you drink multiple glasses in a row without drinking water to accompany them. However, the specifics of wine and dehydration are very dependent on individual metabolisms, whether you are consuming your wine with a meal and other factors.

Don’t assume that a single glass of wine will overly dehydrate you, but keep in mind that wine is generally dehydrating compared to other alcoholic beverages like beer.

Of course, you can still enjoy a glass of wine or two, and remember that Next Health always offers IV therapy for hangover symptoms after a wild night of partying. Contact us today for more information, or check out our locations near you!

Sources:

The effects of dehydration, moderate alcohol consumption, and rehydration on cognitive functions | NCBI

The Diuretic Action of Weak and Strong Alcoholic Beverages in Elderly Men: A Randomized Diet-Controlled Crossover Trial | NCBI

Vasopressin and alcohol: A multifaceted relationship | NCBI

Intravenous nutrient therapy: the "Myers' cocktail” | NCBI

The effects of dehydration | NCBI

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