If you ask Leon Phelps (a.k.a. the “Ladies Man”) about the most essential ingredient for love, Courvoisier will be his answer every time. As he so famously said on SNL: “Usually it only takes me a bottle of Courvoisier and some Lou Rawls to get excited, you know?” It’s true that booze, wine in particular, is listed as one of the top ten aphrodisiacs. But red wine in a particular has been found to be the ideal drink for getting in the mood — in moderation, of course. Here’s what makes that bottle of red on your wine rack the ideal choice for a romantic night in.
Is alcohol an aphrodisiac?
It can be — in moderation. When we first take a sip of booze, alcohol’s initial effects as one of the world’s most efficient social lubricants begins to take hold by lowering inhibitions. This is the liquid courage we hear so much about, and it’s why so many of us seem to have the most success when meeting someone out at a bar. At this initial stage, we feel more confident to take a risk, which can sometimes mean approaching the most attractive person across the room. It’s after one to two drinks when most people report feeling the most pleasure: Alcohol stimulates the receptors in our brain, and after a couple of beverages, that slight buzz and warm feeling aren’t being overwhelmed by the feelings of dizziness or nausea that can set in after consuming too much. Sticking to just one or two drinks also makes for a safer — and more successful —romantic encounter, if you catch our meaning.
Which alcohol is best for sex?
While any alcohol in moderation can stimulate desire, none has more benefits than red wine, regardless of gender. For women, red wine can cause the sex drive to be even more pronounced than with other drinks, at least according to a group of Italian researchers who discovered that the compounds in the wine actually enhance levels of sexual desire in people born female. The study found that red wine specifically increased blood flow to women’s erogenous areas, which in turn led to increased levels of desire. The researchers were quick to point out, however, that after more than a drink or two, the other effects of alcohol began to take hold, which led to a less pleasurable experience. Moderation, it seems, is key.
For men, not only does a drink or two increase blood flow to essential areas, but red wine also seems to increase levels of testosterone in the blood, a necessary hormone when it comes to male sexual arousal. A male’s body typically rids itself of testosterone when an enzyme called UGT2B17 attaches specific molecules to that testosterone, enabling the body to identify it and get rid of it through the urine. But when consuming a glass of red wine, a compound inside the wine called quercetin effectively blocks UGT2B17, preventing the body from excreting it, thereby raising levels of testosterone in the blood. But just as with women, consuming too much of any alcohol — including red wine — can have the reverse effect, lowering testosterone and decreasing the sex drive.
So when it comes to alcohol and sex, the best prescription is splitting a bottle of red with your partner. It’s the perfect amount for you to each have two-ish glasses and safely experience the positive effects the combination of wine and sex can deliver.