Why Does Alcohol Cause the Spins?

viewapart/iStock via Getty Images
viewapart/iStock via Getty Images

You lie down to get some sleep after a long night of drinking, and the room seems to be spinning uncontrollably. What gives?

The spins happen because of an odd effect alcohol has on your ears -- specifically, on three tiny, fluid-filled structures called the semicircular canals. Inside each of these canals is a fluid called endolymph and a gelationous structure called the cupula, which is filled with cells covered in fine, hair-like stereocilia.

As you move around, the movement of the endolymph lags behind the more solid cupula, distorting and bending it -- and those little hairs. When the hairs bend, the electrical signal they send to your brain is altered, helping you to make sense of the rotations your head experiences on each of the three planes the canals sit on -- movements up and down, left and right and backward and forward -- and keep your balance.

Booze throws this system out of whack. Alcohol thins the blood, and when boozy blood travels to the inner ear, it creates a density difference between the cupula and the fluid in the canals, and distorts the cupula's shape. The little hairs bend and send a signal to your brain that tells it you’re rotating when you’re really not, and this illusion of motion makes it seem like the room is spinning.

Some of the things that you most want to do when you’re good and drunk, like lie down and close your eyes, make the sensation worse, since you don’t have any visual or physical cues to counteract the false sense of motion. Looking at a fixed object and keeping your feet planted on the ground can help lessen the effect, but there's no real way to stop it.

Party Like a Hobbit at Chicago’s Lord of the Rings Pop-Up Bar

Gollum and a Ringwraith loom near Bilbo's hobbit hole at Replay Lincoln Park's Lord of the Rings pop-up bar.
Gollum and a Ringwraith loom near Bilbo's hobbit hole at Replay Lincoln Park's Lord of the Rings pop-up bar.
Replay Lincoln Park

One does not simply walk into Mordor, but one does simply walk into The Lord of the Rings pop-up bar in Chicago—as long as you’re at least 21 years old, of course.

Replay Lincoln Park, known for elaborate themed pop-ups for Game of Thrones, South Park, and other entertainment franchises, has transformed its premises into a magical reproduction of Middle-earth aptly called “The One Pop-Up to Rule Them All,” open now through March 23.

Inside, you’ll be able to crouch under an outcropping of tangled tree roots while one of the dreaded Nazgûl lurks above you, high-five a grimacing Gollum, and snap photos with all your favorite Lord of the Rings characters.

nazgul at the lord of the rings pop-up bar at chicago's replay lincoln park
The Nazgûl like to party, too.
Replay Lincoln Park

You might want to skip elevenses to make sure you have plenty of room for a Hobbit-approved feast during your visit. The menu, catered by Zizi’s Cafe, features items like Fried Po-tay-toes, Lord of the Wings, Beef Lembas, and Pippen’s Popcorn.

ent replica at chicago's replay lincoln park pop-up bar
Say hello to a friendly Ent while you munch on "Pippen's Popcorn."
Replay Lincoln Park

According to Thrillist, there will be three different counters in the bar, each with its own specialty drinks. Head to The Prancing Pony for a second breakfast shot (maple whiskey, bacon, and orange juice), or take a trip to Minas Tirith to toss back a palantir shot, made of silver tequila and passion fruit purée. If you’re in the mood for a little dark magic, you can trek over to Mordor and try a “my precious” shot, a fusion of dark rum, orange liquor, and Cajun seasoning.

lord of the rings pop-up bar at chicago's replay lincoln park
The Eye of Sauron is watching you order another round of Mordor shots.
Replay Lincoln Park

For those of you who are happy to accompany your Tolkien-obsessed friends to the pop-up but aren’t exactly tickled at the sight of a moss-covered Ent replica yourselves, take heart in this added bonus: Replay Lincoln Park also boasts more than 60 free arcade games and pinball machines.

[h/t Thrillist]

Wine Prices Are Dropping—Here’s Why

These glasses of wine might've been cheaper than usual.
These glasses of wine might've been cheaper than usual.
Rostislav_Sedlacek/iStock via Getty Images

Stopping by the local wine shop on your way home from work today? That bottle of red, white, or rosé might be a little cheaper than it has been in the past—and not (necessarily) because today is National Drink Wine Day. According to CNN, the price of wine is on the decline due to a grape surplus in California and a decrease in demand across the country.

Jeff Bitter, president of Allied Grape Growers, told CNN that demand had grown pretty consistently for about 20 years before abruptly slowing down in 2015. That surprising decrease, combined with especially plentiful grape harvests at northern California vineyards—which were partially the result of improved harvesting techniques—has forced the market to drop its prices.

"Since it takes up to five years to bring wine to market from the initial planning stages of planting a vineyard, it makes hitting future demand very complicated,” Bitter told CNN. “In this case, we overshot demand.”

Prices will likely stay low for a few years while vineyards figure out how many acres of vines they need to match consumer demand. Meanwhile, the rest of the wine industry will be trying to figure out how to increase demand by targeting a seemingly indifferent demographic: Millennials.

Rob McMillan, founder of Silicon Valley Bank’s wine division, explained in the annual report on the state of the wine industry that this price drop could be one way of tacitly encouraging Millennials to choose wine over other types of alcohol.

“Acute oversupply will allow for better-quality juice in lower-priced bottles, which will improve value and may provide an incentive for some Millennials to become more consistent wine buyers,” McMillan said in the report.

Whether or not you’re a wine drinker yourself, you can still enjoy learning a little something about everyone’s favorite fermented fruit juice—here are 10 facts you might not know about wine.

[h/t CNN]

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