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Does Italian Wine Act Like a Truth Serum?

We’ve all heard the saying that drunk lips speak the sober truth of the heart.

It’s one of those little bits of folk wisdom that everybody seems to believe. And if you think about it, there are probably times in your life when the saying has proven true. If you’ve ever had a tipsy heart-to-heart with somebody where they told you something they’d never told you when sober, you have every reason to believe this little saying.

We’ve heard it too.

Many of the Xtrawine team believes they’ve experienced it first-hand. 

So, we come to the obvious question:

Does drinking a little too much Italian wine loosen your lips? Is alcohol really the truth serum that so many claim it to be?

We did the research so you don’t have to. And you may find that the results surprise you.

What Does the Science Say?

As with so many other pieces of folk wisdom, scientists have decided to run tests to see if Italian wine really gets people to tell the truth. After all, if there’s a theory floating around, you can always guarantee that a curious mind or two will gravitate towards wanting to find the truth of the matter.

So, what does the research say?

It’s inconclusive.

First, let’s look at the effects alcohol has on you when you drink a little too much.

When drinking, your social inhibitions are lowered, which can cause you to act in ways that you normally wouldn’t when you’re sober. This can lead to the sorts of drunken revelations that have given rise to the old saying that we opened the article with. However, it can also lead to people making dumb decisions that they wouldn’t make with a sober mind. For example, somebody who becomes a dancing machine when they’re drunk doesn’t necessarily secretly love to dance and has never told you. They may just feel like having a dance at the moment, with that drunken dance unlikely to lead to them suddenly becoming Michael Flatley once they sober up again.

Alcohol also leads to the loss of a person’s cognitive control. Some research even suggests that our neurotransmitters can slow down to the point of stopping when we drink too much. This compromises our ability to determine the potential emotional impact of the things we say, which may lead to you “speaking your mind” when you’re drunk.

But here’s the catch there.

What is on your mind when you’re drunk may not be how you truly think when you’re sober. Your drunken thoughts are all affected by your cognitive slowdown, which can lead to you making decisions or judgements that don’t reflect the truth of your personality.

Now, all of this is not to say that people never speak the truth when they’re drunk.

They do.

However, the point of all of this is to demonstrate that alcohol can lower a person’s inhibitions to the point where they simply do things they wouldn’t normally do or talk more than they usually would. If the extra talking leads to the person saying something they haven’t said yet, that could simply be a coincidence.

Do Drunk People Lie?

Again, there isn’t a simple yes or no answer to this question. In much the same way as alcohol-affected people may tell more of the truth than they normally would when sober, so too may they feel more confident in telling lies they wouldn’t normally tell.

However, the fact is that some drunk people do lie. You may have experienced this yourself when dealing with a drunk person who is trying to regale you with a tale that clearly didn’t happen. You may have even done it yourself when delivering the immortal (and almost always incorrect) line of “I’m not drunk”.

Some of the science suggests that drunken lies tend to stem from being defensive, as in the “I’m not drunk” example. Your lowered inhibitions may make it harder for you to accept the truth of your situation, or be more willing to argue about it, leading to lies that you may not even realise that you’re telling.

Similarly, expressions of heartfelt emotions are often more truthful and are thus amplified if the person expressing said emotions is a touch tipsy.

So… Italian Wine Isn’t a Truth Serum

Let’s put it like this…

If we wanted to find out the truth about something, getting a person drunk on wine probably wouldn’t be the solution that we would choose. After all, the science shows us that there is no guarantee that we would get the truth. We may even end up with somebody lying to us if we say something that puts them in a defensive or confrontational mood.

If anything, alcohol simply enhances emotional reactions while lowering inhibitions.

This can lead to a person telling the truth about something that they haven’t talked about when sober.

It can equally lead to lying or even aggressive behaviour that isn’t indicative of their normal personality.

Our recommendation is this:

If you want to get to the truth of any matter, speak to the individual involved when they’re sober and ask them directly. They may not tell you the full truth. However, you will be able to far better gauge their responses than you would if they were talking to you while drunk.

The Final Word

Italian wine has never been designed with the intention of getting people to tell truths (or lies) that they don’t want to tell. As with all types of alcohol, wine is best enjoyed in moderation. If you find yourself, or somebody else, drinking to the point where their lips loosen very often, this isn’t a chance to get to the truth of a matter. 

It’s an opportunity to remind the affected person that their wine is best enjoyed and appreciated in moderation.

And for those who are seeking a truth serum, you will not reliably find it with Italian wine. What you will find are beautiful textures, gorgeous flavours, and the perfect complement to many a meal.

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