A new study by Israeli researchers suggests that people have an increased sense of smell after consuming a moderate amount of alcohol. This may help to explain why food tastes so good after a bout of drinking.
Researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science administered a simple odor-discrimination test to 20 volunteer subjects. First, the participants were asked to smell three samples and pick the odd one out. They repeated this process six times. Then each subject drank a 35 milliliter cocktail of grape juice and vodka. The experiment was repeated a second time with a rose-like smell.
Soon after, the research team hit the local pubs of Rehovot and Herzliya, Israel. There 45 volunteers were given a scratch-and-sniff test on odor discrimination.
The study conclusively showed that people who had ingested a small amount of alcohol were better at odor discrimination in all three tests. However if the subjects had consumed more than three drinks per hour for men and two drinks per hour for women, they were actually much worse at discriminating odors.
Does Food Taste Better When You're Drunk?
Lead researcher Yaara Endevelt says a person’s sense of smell is linked to inhibition in the mind. That explains why the relaxing effects of a glass of wine pair so well with food and company.
We know a lot about alcohol’s ability to make greasy fast food taste surprisingly delicious. Men’s Health published an article about why we eat more when we drink alcohol. One study found that men who drink alcohol generally consume 30 percent more food in one sitting than sober men. The body processes alcoholic calories – like the ones in beer – differently, so we don't feel as full.
As for specific cravings, alcohol is notorious for driving people to salt and fat. And that explains why your late-night meal, or next-day brunch, usually consists of pizza or burritos.