Background: The pre-drinking mood state has been indicated to be an important factor in the mood effects of alcohol. However, for moderate alcohol consumption there are no controlled studies showing this association. Also, the mood effects of consuming alcohol combined with food are largely unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of moderate alcohol combined with a meal on ambiance-induced mood states. Furthermore effects on autonomic nervous system activity were measured to explore physiological mechanisms that may be involved in changes of mood state.Methods: In a crossover design 28 women (age 18–45 y, BMI 18.5–27 kg/m2) were randomly allocated to 4 conditions in which they received 3 glasses of sparkling white wine (30 g alcohol) or alcohol-free sparkling white wine while having dinner in a room with either a pleasant or unpleasant created ambiance. Subjects filled out questionnaires (B-BAES, POMS and postprandial wellness questionnaire) at different times. Skin conductance and heart rate variability were measured continuously. Results: Moderate alcohol consumption increased happiness scores in the unpleasant, but not in the pleasant ambiance. Alcohol consumption increased happiness and stimulation feelings within 1 hour and increased sedative feelings and sleepiness for 2.5 hour. Skin conductance was increased after alcohol within 1 hour and was related to happiness and stimulation scores. Heart rate variability was decreased after alcohol for 2 hours and was related to mental alertness. Conclusion: Mood inductions and autonomic nervous system parameters may be useful to evaluate mood changes by nutritional interventions. Moderate alcohol consumption elevates happiness scores in an unpleasant ambiance. However, drinking alcohol during a pleasant mood results in an equally positive mood state.