Bizarre Facts About Wine and Your Sex Drive

Wine and sex is definitely not a pairing that instantly comes into mind. However, even though we don’t talk about it, wine is used as a social lubricant all the time–which left us wondering…

Why is Wine and Sex a Thing?

In 2009, an Italian research group published a study that showed a correlation of drinking wine –specifically red wine– increased the sexual appetite of women. The study queried 800 Italian women who drank red wine, other alcohol, or no alcohol at all. The red wine drinkers scored 2 points higher than other alcohol drinkers, and 4 more points than teetotalers. Overall, the study isn’t enough to support wine and sex drive, but it did inspire more research.

Wine and Your Sex Drive

wine and sex Delicatessen Daniela Vladimirova
“Delicatessen” photo by Daniela Vladimirova

Why Alcohol Makes You Horny, Hungry, and Hot

Alcohol in small amounts will increase your libido. It will also make you hungry and feel flushed. This is because ethanol stimulates a primitive part of your brain called the hypothalamus, which is located right above your brain stem. This portion of the brain regulates basic human functions, including body temperature, hunger, hormone levels, parental attachment behavior and, of course, sex drive.

Moderation is Key: You only need a little bit of wine to feel these effects. You’d be surprised how many people don’t realize this, but too much wine over your weight limit is bad for you. Not that I don’t trust you, but one can never stop talking about the importance of moderation.

FACT: It’s been shown that alcohol tends to arouse women more than men.

Women Smelling a Glass of Red Wine by Wine Folly

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Smelling Wine Turns You On

Several studies have been conducted over the last 10 years attempting to identify what smells activate the sex drives in women and men. While this science is still very new and also pretty complex, it’s been suggested that certain smells turn us on. Oddly enough, a lot of the aromas found in wine are the aromas that turn us on.

Women are Aroused by Different Smells than Men

Aromas that Arouse Women

Women tend to get turned on by musky, earthy, woody, licorice-y, and cherry-like aromas.

While we don’t have conclusive evidence, these flavor descriptions sound a lot like words used to describe fine Nebbiolo, Barbera, Sangiovese, Zinfandel, and even rustic Pinot Noir.

Aromas That Arouse Men

Men tend to get turned by with lavender, caramel, butter, orange, licorice, baking spice, and vanilla-like aromas.

We can’t make definitive claims but many of these aromas are commonly found in fine Champagne, Moscato, Dry Sherry, Tawny Port, Vin Santo, Grenache, Syrah, and even Rosé wines.

 

FACT: People with Anosmia (a condition where you lose your sense of smell) typically have lower sex drives.

what-is-aroma

Your Smell Memory Unconsciously Conditions You

Smell memories, or olfactory memories, are some of the strongest and longest lasting memories we have. You’ve probably experienced explicit olfactory memories in which certain aromas bring back specific memories from the past. However, you might not know that there are also implicit olfactory memories that are unconscious, priming or conditioning us to behave in a certain way.

Thus, if you’ve had really wild nights in the past with a particular sparkling rosé wine, it’s quite possible that you’ve unconsciously conditioned yourself to become aroused with the wine’s aromas. Of course, to build these aroma memories, you need to start taking the time to really sniff your wines.

Other Strange Reasons Why Wine is an Aphrodisiac

Perhaps you’ve heard that wine and chocolate are aphrodisiacs. So why is this? Well, it’s been suggested that it’s because of the presence of amines. Amines are organic compounds that are present in very small amounts in wine.

Several analyses of red wines including, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc, indicated that wines with the highest amounts of amines tend to be made with natural yeasts, oak-aged, unfined, unfiltered and had undergone malolactic fermentation.

A few of the common amines found in red wine are histamine, tyramine, spermidine, putrescine and serotonin. Histamine correlates to an increased sex drive, alertness, and weight loss. However, despite its positives as a stimulant, histamine can also cause inflammation and hypertension in people who are highly sensitive to it. So again, with all things… moderation is key.

Flavors in Wine Demystified

Flavors in Wine Demystified

Identify flavors in wine with this handy aroma wheel

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Sources:
  • Odors: implicit memory and performance effects
  • Study shows histamines make you turned on
  • More info on histamines and arousal
  • Regular moderate intake of red wine is linked to a better women's sexual health
  • Your Vomeronasal Organ (VNO) triggers your hypothalamus
  • How your VNO influences you in strange ways
  • Various Aromas Found to Enhance Male Sexual Response
  • Men have decreased sexual performance from alcohol use.
  • Bioactive Amines in Brazilian Wines: Types, Levels and Correlation with Physico-Chemical Parameters
  • Some people are intolerant to histamines
  • Spermidine in high doses causes arousal

About Madeline Puckette

James Beard Award-winning author and Wine Communicator of the Year. I co-founded Wine Folly to help people learn about wine. @WineFolly