Vive la Difference! The Effects of Natural and Conventional Wines on Blood Alcohol Concentrations: A Randomized, Triple-Blind, Controlled Study

Nutrients. 2019 Apr 30;11(5):986. doi: 10.3390/nu11050986.


Different alcoholic beverages can have different effects on blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and neurotoxicity, even when equalized for alcohol content by volume. Anecdotal evidence suggested that natural wine is metabolized differently from conventional wines. This triple-blind study compared the BAC of 55 healthy male subjects after consuming the equivalent of 2 units of alcohol of a natural or conventional wine over 3 min in two separate sessions, one week apart. BAC was measured using a professional breathalyzer every 20 min after consumption for 2 h. The BAC curves in response to the two wines diverged significantly at twenty minutes (interval T20) and forty minutes (interval T40), and also at their maximum concentrations (peaks), with the natural wine inducing a lower BAC than the conventional wine [T20 = 0.40 versus 0.46 (p < 0.0002); T40 = 0.49 versus 0.53 (p < 0.0015); peak = 0.52 versus 0.56 (p < 0.0002)]. These differences are likely related to the development of different amino acids and antioxidants in the two wines during their production. This may in turn affect the kinetics of alcohol absorption and metabolism. Other contributing factors could include pesticide residues, differences in dry extract content, and the use of indigenous or selected yeasts. The study shows that with the same quantity and conditions of intake, natural wine has lower pharmacokinetic and metabolic effects than conventional wine, which can be assumed due to the different agronomic and oenological practices with which they are produced. It can therefore be hypothesized that the consumption of natural wine may have a different impact on human health from that of conventional wine.

Keywords: alcohol; blood alcohol content; breathalyzer; natural wine; pesticides.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Blood Alcohol Content*
  • Fermentation
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pesticides
  • Wine / analysis*
  • Wine / classification*
  • Yeasts
  • Young Adult


  • Blood Alcohol Content
  • Pesticides