When it comes to engineering the fickle emotions of humans, alcohol can do it all. It’s raised for successes and downed in sorrow. It can energize and relax us. It temporarily erases regrets while creating new ones. It’s liquid courage and a downer. It can smooth a first date or conjure tears alone. And this holiday—as with every holiday—it’s likely to both smother and ignite family blow-ups.
But not every drink offers the same mood maneuvering powers, according to a new study in BMJ Open. Sifting through drinking survey responses of nearly 30,000 people from 21 countries, researchers found that drinkers turn to different types of alcohol for different moods and purposes.
For instance, about 53 percent of respondents thought that red wine relaxed them, and 60 percent reported it made them sleepy. So, if you’re looking for a pacifier for any hot-headed in-laws this holiday, maybe turn to a mellow merlot. For your more enjoyable guests, go with a cocktail. Nearly 60 percent of respondents felt that spirits both energized them and boosted their confidence. And 42 percent said it made them feel sexy. But maybe keep the martinis away from that hot-headed relative—nearly 30 percent of the survey takers thought that spirits made them aggressive.