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Does Alcohol Really Warm You Up?

Brrr. It's around this time of year that I want to just crawl under the covers and hibernate until the first day of spring. But since that's not exactly a feasible plan, I throw on another itchy sweater and dial the thermostat up a notch. Or maybe I should drink more alcohol. After all, isn't that why Russians practically learn to drink vodka as babies and St. Bernards carry brandy in those little barrels around their neck?

Scientifically speaking, alcohol really does have a warming effect. It dilates your blood vessels and increases your blood flow. The tannins and histamines found in red wine can also cause a warming reaction in your body. Combined, these elements lead to that tingly glow you get after a few sips of red wine. Drinking alcohol can be a great way to feel warmer. It doesn't, however, actually make you warmer. Your alcohol doesn't raise your body temperature; it just redistributes blood closer to the surface of your skin so you feel the heat.

So that plan to drink a lot of red wine and then go snowboarding in a T-shirt? Not a good one. You'll still get frostbite. And probably fall down a lot.

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