Why Does Red Wine Cause Headaches? (Correct answer)

Tannins, another grape-skin constituent, could be at fault. Tannins are plant chemicals that impart flavor to red wines and contain antioxidants. But they also spur the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which at high levels can cause headaches in some people.

  • It is believed that the tannins in red wine are one of the possible causes for wine headaches. Tannins are found in different parts of the grape like seeds, stems, and skins. Red wines typically are higher in tannins, so if you’re a red wine lover, you may want to opt for one that’s lower in tannins, or switch over to white.


How do you get rid of a red wine headache?

How To Avoid A Headache From Drinking Wine

  1. Get caffeinated. Drinking two cups of strong coffee before pouring your wine can help, according to Dr.
  2. Stick to lighter reds.
  3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

Which red wine is least likely to cause headache?

Drink red wine sparingly, or try a varietal that’s less likely to prompt headaches — a Pinot Noir (lower in tannins), perhaps? Or hey, you can always just give up and drink white! If you want more advice about avoiding hangovers — from wine and everything else — check out these nutritionist-approved suggestions.

Which wine doesn’t give you a headache?

If drinking wine gives you symptoms like congestion or headaches it might just be histamines are the culprit. Try drinking dry whites like Sauvignon Blanc or sparkling wines like Cava or Prosecco as they are lower in histamines than red wines.

Can red wine trigger a migraine?

Migraine patients consume alcohol less often than the general public. Although migraine sufferers consider red wine the principal migraine trigger, studies show that other alcoholic drinks are equally or more frequently the cause. Alcohol, and not a different constituent of the drink, is probably the trigger.

Why do cheap wines give you a headache?

Wines high in tannins can sometimes – but not always – interfere with serotonin levels, which can result in a headache. The reason cheap wines get blamed so often is because, just like with the sugar, in cheaper wines these tannins tend to be added or even synthetic, which can create the headache.

What wine has no sulfites?

Top 5: Wines Without Sulfites

  • Frey Vineyards Natural Red NV, California ($9)
  • Cascina Degli Ulivi Filagnotti 2009, Piedmont ($22)
  • Domaine Valentin Zusslin Crémant Brut Zéro, Alsace ($25)
  • Donkey & Goat The Prospector Mourvèdre 2010 ($30), California.
  • Château Le Puy Côtes de Francs 2006, Bordeaux ($42)

What wine gives you the least hangover?

Red wine has the lowest levels of Acetaldehyde. Wines with high levels of this chemical include Sherry, Brandy, and some sweet wines.

What is Prosecco?

Prosecco is made from a blend of grapes that must be at least 85% glera, with the rest being local and international varieties including verdiso, bianchetta trevigiana, perera, chardonnay, pinot bianco, pinot grigio and pinot noir. The majority of prosecco is produced using the Charmat method.

Does cheap red wine give you headache?

Yes, cheap wine can give you a headache. So can expensive wine.

How do you remove tannins from wine?

Tannins can be removed from wine through a process called fining. Fining a wine is rarely done, except in these cases: If a wine is thought to be too astringent—containing too many or too strong tannins—manufacturers can remove the tannins creating these problems.

Why do I get an instant headache when I drink alcohol?

Alcohol not only contains a chemical called histamine, but it also spurs your immune system to make more. This boosts inflammation throughout your body. A chemical called ethanol is alcohol’s main ingredient. Once it gets into your system, it is converted into a chemical that triggers migraine.

Does wine make a headache worse?

Red wine can also cause a rise in the level of serotonin (5-HT) in the blood3, which has been linked to migraine headaches. Sulphites are often blamed for causing headaches too, although in fact, white wine contains higher levels of sulphites than red wine.

What alcohol does not trigger migraines?

Vodka was cited as the least likely to provoke headache (8.5% of patients). Regardless of beverage type, one-third of patients indicated that onset was rapid (<3 hours following alcohol intake) and nearly 90% reported onset at <10 hours.

Wine Headache: Causes, Treatment, Prevention Tips

When the throbbing begins, you’re sitting down to dinner with a glass of wine in hand. The remainder of your evening is about to be ruined by a wine headache, and you already know what that entails. Headaches are frequently attributed to excessive use of alcohol. The pain is certainly genuine, but there is currently no scientific evidence to support the causes of this occurrence at this time. Let’s take a deeper look at what causes a wine headache, if there is a method to avoid it, and what to do if you do have one in the future.

Depending on how much you drink, the first pang of a headache may appear immediately or it may appear many hours later.

Red wine, in particular, has long been recognized as a migraine-inducing substance.

It’s possible that migraine attacks are caused by a combination of many circumstances.

Here are some plausible explanations for wine-induced headaches.


Histamine may be found in grape skins. Because white wine is produced without the use of the grape skin, it has a lower histamine level than red wine, which is produced using the entire grape. The presence of histamine sensitivity may make you more prone to migraines. Keep in mind that other meals, other than alcoholic beverages, contain higher levels of histamine. These are some examples:

  • Cheese that has been aged
  • Eggplant, sauerkraut, and spinach are among the ingredients. fish
  • Sausages with salami


The cheese that has been aged. vegetables such as eggplant, sauerkraut, and spinach fish; saucisson et salami


Wine headaches are occasionally attributed to the presence of sulfites in the wine. Sulfites are chemicals that aid in the preservation of red and white wines, among other things. It is more probable that you will develop breathing issues rather than headaches if you have a sulfite sensitivity. Sulfites can also be found in higher concentrations in the following foods:

  • Certain fruits and dried fruits, chips, pickles, raisins, and soy sauce are examples of foods that fall within this category.

Wine is typically cited as the most common alcoholic beverage to cause a headache, however any sort of alcoholic beverage can cause one. Alcoholic beverages are not “safe,” and you do not have to be suffering from a main headache issue in order to be affected. Your particular headache causes are unique to you. Even well-known headache causes are not always effective in alleviating the condition. The development of a headache may be influenced by a range of contributing variables, including but not limited to:

  • Additionally, the things you’ve eaten, drinking on an empty stomach, your stress levels, and level of exhaustion are all factors to consider.

Of course, excessive consumption of any form of alcoholic beverage might result in a hangover headache.

However, the amount of alcohol you consume, rather than the sort of alcohol you consume, is what causes that type of headache. When you see the first signs of a wine headache coming on, it’s a good idea to put your wine glass down and explore one or more of the solutions listed below.

  • Have a caffeinated beverage with your meal
  • Drink lots of water Apply a cold compress or ice pack to the area of discomfort. Place yourself in a dark place and close your eyes.

Wine headaches may be relieved with over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications, such as the following: Even while over-the-counter pain medicines are typically harmless, combining them with alcoholic beverages might be hazardous in some circumstances, particularly if you:

  • Taking more medicine than is suggested
  • Consuming three or more alcoholic beverages per day while using the drug
  • Having stomach ulcers or other bleeding issues
  • Taking blood thinning medicines

If you use over-the-counter or prescription headache medications, read the label carefully for directions and cautions about possible interactions with alcohol. Identifying wine as a typical headache cause may indicate that you should abstain from consuming the beverage in the future. It is possible that there will be no more reds, no more whites, or no more wine at all. You could want to try with different types of wine if your headaches are tolerable and you’re prepared to take a chance on it, on the other hand.

  • When it comes to winemaking, there are a range of grape varieties available as well as preservatives and other substances to consider.
  • Any form of alcoholic beverage, especially if consumed in excess, can cause a headache.
  • If you do not consume alcohol, the recommended daily consumption for women is one standard drink per day and two standard drinks per day for men.
  • It is not unusual to get a wine headache, although the cause is not always evident.
  • If you get a wine headache on a regular basis, this does not always indicate that you should stop drinking wine in the future.
  • Drinking gently and limiting the amount of alcohol you consume may also help you avoid a headache.
  • If your wine headache appears out of nowhere, is severe, or is accompanied by additional symptoms you haven’t experienced before, consult your doctor right once.

Why Does Wine Give You a Headache?

Some days it starts with a dull forehead throb, while other days it starts with a warp in the corners of my vision. Afterwards, the discomfort grows until it seems as if my mind is trying to unstick itself from my head. A headache has struck me, a severe one, and I’m not sure why I’ve got it. Because someone asked me a simple question—”Would you like red or white?”—and I picked red despite the fact that I was well aware of the ramifications of my decision. I’m not the only one that feels this way.

  1. Even a single glass of wine might set off a chain reaction.
  2. For example, I was invited to a dinner party hosted by a fashionable acquaintance last year and had a great time.
  3. The hue of the wine was that of rubies.
  4. The woman said, “I’ve got some type ofRiesling in the fridge.” I was on the fence.

But it wasn’t. It was a risky proposition for me. I took a chance and ended up with a pounding headache that I had to smile and bear for the rest of the night. So the issue becomes, how can I, or anybody else, distinguish between a headache-inducing red and a headache-free red?

Sulfites: Innocent Or Evil?

It’s possible that a large number of individuals reading this are thinking: Hold on a minute, I already know the answer. Isn’t it the sulfites that are to blame? The quick answer is that it does not. Because of their anti-oxidant properties, these chemicals have been utilized in wine production since antiquity to avoid spoiling and to preserve reds vibrant and whites white. They’re also a natural by-product of fermentation, which means that making a completely sulfite-free wine is very impossible.

Scientists, on the other hand, have discovered no relationship between sulfites in wine and headaches.

Furthermore, white wines often contain higher sulfites than red wines due to the addition of sulfites.

Skin in the Game

Then what is the cause if sulfites are not to blame? Scientists are split on the subject, but the most likely possibilities are two kinds of naturally occurring substances present in red wines: phenolic flavonoids and biogenic amines. Phenolic flavonoids and biogenic amines are the most likely culprits. Explaining these compounds risks delving into chemistry-class-level nerdiness, but, in general, phenolic flavonoids include many of the molecules that contribute to the color, flavor, and mouthfeel of wine, all of which are concentrated in the skin, seeds, and stems of grapes.

  1. They can bounce around your body after being consumed, blocking particular enzymes in your stomach, activating the release of serotonin in your brain, and generating responses that have been associated with headaches.
  2. Red wines, on the other hand, are not made equal.
  3. Abouch Krymchantowski and Dr.
  4. They were instructed to consume the wines on separate evenings and to keep track of their impressions in a journal.
  5. What’s the difference?

Tanning and phenolic flavonoids in the Cabernet Sauvignon grape are extracted in large quantities by winemakers in the Médoc and Haut-Médoc regions (which is where the Bordeaux used in the study was sourced) because these compounds aid in the development of flavors and also add aging potential to the finished wine, respectively.

  1. Krymchantowski, are created to be consumed immediately upon release, making them more “approachable.” As a result, less tannins and other flavonoids are removed during the winemaking process, perhaps making these wines more tolerable for those who suffer from headaches.
  2. Dr.
  3. Tannin and other flavonoids are present in higher concentrations in some wines than others, according to Dr.
  4. “Those made with the grape Tannat, or Cabernet Sauvignon, particularly from the parts of Bordeaux on the left bank of the Gironde, and perhaps some Syrahs from South America, are worse than others.” However, he acknowledges that drawing strict lines is difficult.

A Cabernet Sauvignon from a nearby winery, on the other hand, doesn’t upset her at all. “So, what are you going to do?” I inquired about him. “I always try to buy the second bottle of wine,” he said, a prudent response.

It’s All in the Genes

A class of compounds known as biogenic amines, which are created during fermentation, include molecules that are associated with headaches such as histamine and tyramine. While the amount of amine present in wine varies greatly, it is often more in reds than in whites. So these chemicals are the bad guys, don’t you think? Dr. Sami Bahna, of the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center’s Department of Allergy and Immunology, notes that genetics (as well as certain drugs like as MAO inhibitors) may hinder certain drinkers’ capacity to metabolize histamine and its brothers.

You might be interested:  How Long Does A Bottle Of Wine Last? (Solution)

However, if you have amine sensitivity, you should be aware of the following foods: Aged cheeses, preserved meats, and dried fruits are all known to cause allergic responses.

The Sum of the Parts

Some individuals swear by drinking only natural wines, which are created without the addition of any chemicals, in order to avoid headaches. However, because all of these hazardous chemicals are found in nature, research does not support this hypothesis. In reality, providing a one-size-fits-all answer is nearly impossible since the alchemy of a red wine headache is dependent on only on the chemical content of the wine, but also on the quirks of your body, the circumstances of your life, and even the weather.

Audrey Halpern, an assistant professor of neurology at New York University’s Langone Medical Center who specializes in headaches, explains that people who are prone to migraines are more likely to be adversely affected by red wine, but that multiple triggers are usually required to bring on a full-blown attack: “People who are prone to migraines are more likely to be adversely affected by red wine, but people who are not prone to migraines are not.” “It’s not simply the glass of red wine,” says the author.

It’s the red wine and a slice of pepperoni pizza, as well as the reduction in barometric pressure as a result of a hurricane approaching.” To make matters even more complicated, your proclivity to acquire a headache is dependent on your physiology.

Halpern, hormonal changes “may render the brain more vulnerable to infection.” “Alternatively, if you’re stressed out or not sleeping well,” she says.

The Takeaway

A New Year’s Eve encounter with a magnificent bottle of Quintarelli Valpolicella—an really lush, strong Italian red—left me with a few hours of cringing pain, I determined that was the end of the bottle for me this year. I’d had enough of the wine headaches. Or, at the absolute least, I’d experiment with some wines that were specifically designed with headache patients in mind. Sebastiano Ramello, an Italian winemaker (and exceptionally wonderful son), set out to create a wine that would not exacerbate his mother’s symptoms after she was diagnosed with histamine intolerance.

On a recent rainy afternoon, I had the opportunity to sample both.

However, the bottle of Bruno Giacosa Dolcetto that I opened thereafter didn’t give me a headache and turned out to be an even finer wine than the first.

Thus, it’s possible that my future wine consumption will be dominated by those varietals.

My husband and I still have three bottles of that wonderful Quintarelli wine from New Year’s Eve left over from our celebration. And, regardless of the ramifications, I plan to take pleasure in each and every one of them.

Why Does Red Wine Or White Wine Give Me A Headache?

After a long evening and a lot of wine, we’ve all experienced the following scenario: we’re at the conclusion of the evening and a severe headache begins to develop. The most common reason of a wine headache is simply drinking too much wine and not enough water, according to the majority of us. The simplest approach in this situation is to constantly be mindful of how much alcohol you consume and to always drink plenty of water. However, for a tiny percentage of our population, headaches caused by wine can develop even when we don’t consume large quantities of the beverage.

There are three primary causes and treatments, but before we go into detail about each, we want to dispel a common misconception: sulfites do not cause headaches.

Let’s take a look at the three most common headache-inducing factors:

  1. Firstly, tannins: As we explained in our tannins piece, tannins are naturally occurring chemicals that exist inside grape skins, seeds, and stems, and they are responsible for the color of wine. When you drink a wine that causes a drying feeling in your mouth, you are experiencing the effects of tannins, and for the vast majority of us, tannins do not cause a headache at all. In fact, tannins are an excellent source of antioxidants. In the meanwhile, if you notice that you experience headaches more frequently when you drink red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec, you may do a simple test to see whether tannins are the source of your headache troubles. Make a cup of black tea and let it steep for five or ten minutes longer than the packet says, depending on your preference. Black tea contains a high concentration of tannins, and over-steeping the tea will guarantee that all of the tannins are released into the water. Take the tea and see whether you develop a headache as a result of it. If this is the case, you are sensitive to tannins, and avoiding red wines will alleviate your headache problem. Culprit number two is sugar: Combining the effects of alcohol and sugar might result in a very painful headache for many people. When you eat alcohol or sugar, your body necessitates the consumption of large amounts of water in order to aid in the processing of the chemicals. If you are not properly hydrated, your body will begin to draw the required water from other regions of your body, including your brain, in order to meet its demands. A headache develops as the amount of fluids in your brain begins to diminish. For best results, stay away from sweet dessert wines and white wines such as Riesling that are labeled semi-dry or sweet (if you prefer Riesling but don’t want the sugar headache, make sure the wine is labeled dry). Another type of wine to avoid is less expensive wines, which tend to contain more sugar since mass manufacturers add sugar during the fermentation process in order to increase the alcohol content. Histamines are the third culprit. As a result of having an allergic response, histamines are released into the body and can produce symptoms such as a runny nose, dry eyes, and a headache. In recent study, it was discovered that foods and beverages that have been aged, such as dry aged meats and red wines, might stimulate our bodies to produce histamines, resulting in the symptoms associated with allergies. If you want to avoid getting a histamine headache after drinking red wine, simply take a histamine blocker such as Claritin before you drink it.

Let me reiterate: for the vast majority of us, the cause of a wine headache is simply drinking too much wine without drinking enough water. Is there such a thing as a fabled wine headache cure? A wine headache may be prevented by just stopping it before it starts. It’s as easy as that. Don’t go overboard, especially during a work party.

The science behind those painful wine headaches

iStock | Getty Images Plus | andresr | Getty Images Have you ever had something like this happen to you? What if you’re enjoying a glass or two of wine when your head starts to feel like someone peeled off a Band-Aid from your brain? You’re not alone in feeling this way. But what occurred after that? And why is it that some people never have wine headaches? Dr. Nadia Berenstein is a researcher who writes about science, technology, and culture in the context of food for a variety of media as well as on her blog, Flavor Added, among other places.

  • Russ Parsons: I’d want to thank you for your time.
  • Some have contended for years that it is caused by the sulfites in the wine, but you assert that this is not the case, and I agree.
  • Nadia Berenstein (Nadia Berenstein): I’m one of those folks that gets headaches after drinking red wine.
  • I will experience a splitting headache, especially after drinking very exquisite wines, which I have described as feeling like a Band-Aid is being torn off my brain once.
  • On the whole, I believe that we have a tendency to presume that because wines have a sulfite warning sign on them, that it must be a potentially harmful chemical that is causing our discomfort, but this is not the case.
  • When they ingest food that contains sulfite, they experience an allergic reaction, which may manifest itself as a rash or trouble breathing in some cases.
  • For the rest of us, when we see that warning label, we automatically assume that it is the reason of our discomfort.

Since antiquity, winemakers have been adding sulfites to their products in little amounts to make them taste better.

They help to maintain the vibrancy of red wines.

Furthermore, because they are a natural result of fermentation, it is difficult to produce a wine that is completely free of sulfite.

Consequently, if you don’t develop a headache after eating dried apricots, you shouldn’t automatically conclude that sulfites are the source of your discomfort.

Photo courtesy of Amy Mills As a matter of fact, white wines tend to have more sulfites than red wines.

Sulfites are commonly used by winemakers to enhance the flavor of white wines.

In the event that sulfites are not the culprit, what do you suppose it is?

The first type of flavonoids are phenolic flavonoids.

They contribute to the texture and color of the wine, among other things.

It’s a group of taste compounds.

Biogenic amines are the name given to the second class of chemicals.

They have also been connected to the occurrence of headaches.

NB: Let’s start with the phenolic flavonoids, which are the most abundant.

Because these chemicals are concentrated in the skins of the grapes, red wines contain higher concentrations than white wines.

Wines that have been heavily extracted, like as the rich and tannic wines produced in specific sections of Bordeax, are particularly rich in phenolic flavonoids.

It’s a different scenario when it comes to biogenic amines.

As we begin to have a better understanding of what is going on, are there any winemakers who are putting forth efforts to develop wines that will not have these adverse effects?

In order to write this tale, I spoke with someone who has been involved in the manufacturing of low histamine wines.

He explained to me that as part of his job as a wine consultant, he would attend tastings and bring back the bottles of wine that he would like to share with friends and family back to his apartment.

She ultimately went to a doctor, who diagnosed her with histamine sensitivity and advised her not to consume red wine again.

He began looking for techniques to manufacture wine that contained a low level of histamine.

He explains that it is all about managing the germs that are present on the grapes as well as throughout the manufacturing and fermenting process.

He formed a partnership with a Piedmont winery named Veglio in order to develop low-histamine wines, which are now available in stores across the United States.

NB: Wines, like people, are difficult to understand.

The first approach is to pay attention, take notice of what you’re drinking, and attempt to figure out whether there’s a connection between the grapes and the aches and pains.

With wines that are less tannic, you could have better success.

For example, wines that have undergone malolactic fermentation, such as Chardonnays, tend to have larger quantities of these chemicals than other wines.

NB:There is, in fact, such a thing.

However, it’s crucial to remember that it’s not just genes that are at play, but also your environment, which includes the foods you consume.

The combination of red wine and other high-histamine meals may thus be the cause of your symptoms rather than just the red wine you’re consuming on its own.

Hormonal fluctuations, lack of sleep, and not having eaten lunch are all factors that increase your vulnerability.

People who are prone to migraines are more sensitive to wines, as well as to alcoholic beverages in general, than the general public. This may be something that persons who suffer from migraines wish to address with their neurologist or their migraine specialist.

Wine Headaches: What Causes Them and How to Prevent Them

Image courtesy of andresr | iStock | Getty Images Plus. Have you ever had something like this happen to you before? What if you’re enjoying a glass or two of wine when your head starts to feel like someone pulled off a Band-Aid from your skull? You’re not alone in feeling this way, believe it. What transpired, though, was something else altogether. In addition, why are there individuals who never experience wine headaches? She is a researcher who contributes to several journals and her blog Flavor Added by writing on science, technology, and culture in the context of food.

  • Rudy Parsons: I’d want to thank everyone for their support.
  • Some have contended for years that it is caused by the sulfites in the wine, but you assert that this is not the case, and I believe you.
  • Nadia Berenstein: I’d want to thank everyone for their support.
  • Not with every wine, and certainly not every time you drink it!
  • It’s not a good experience at all.
  • Only a small fraction of the population – about one in every 100 individuals – is highly sensitive to sulfites; in fact, they are virtually allergic to them.
  • People like him are the target of the warning label.
You might be interested:  How To Serve Red Wine?

But the reality is that the vast majority of scientists do not believe this to be true.

They are involved in a variety of activities, including They help to maintain the vibrancy of dark red wines.

Sulfite-free wine is hard to produce since they are a natural consequence of the fermentation process.

When eating dried apricots, you may not get a headache, but this does not rule out sulfites as being the source of your discomfort.

Amy Mills provided the photograph.


In most cases, winemakers will add sulfites to white wine.

Is it sulfites, do you believe, or do you have another theory?

Phenomenal flavonoids are the first class of phytochemicals to be discovered.

Wine’s texture and color are created by these enzymes.

This group of chemicals has a distinct taste.

Biogenic amines are the name given to the second group of chemicals.

The use of these products has also been connected to the occurrence of headaches.

Take, for example, phenolic flavonoids, which are the first to be discussed.

These chemicals are found in greater concentration in red wines than in white wines because they are found in the skins.

The phenolic flavonoids found in highly extracted wines, such as the rich and tannic wines produced in specific districts of Bordeax, are particularly abundant.

A distinct tale is told in the case of biogenic amines.

Do you know of any winemakers that are attempting to develop wines that will not have these side effects now that we’re starting to get a better understanding of what’s going on?

As part of this report, I met with a person who has been engaged in the creation of low-histamine wines.

Sebastiano Ramello is a wine expert from Italy, and he goes by the name of Sebastiano Ramello.

Severe headaches began to plague his mother, who began to complain.

For the record, Sebastiano adores red wine, but he adores his mother far more, and he could not tolerate this.

In reality, it is a more time-consuming operation than you may expect.

In order to maintain control over the conditions in the field and the basement, you must be meticulous and methodical.

RP: Is there a form of red wine that is safer than others for those who are sensitive until this type of winemaking becomes more prevalent, and if so, how can you tell the difference?

: Wine is difficult, and people are complicated as well.

Step one is to pay attention, take notice of what you’re drinking, and attempt to determine whether there is a correlation between the grapes and the pains.

More tannic wines may be more successful in this endeavor.

As an example, wines that have undergone malolactic fermentation, such as Chardonnays, tend to have larger quantities of these chemicals than other varieties.

NB:There is, in fact, a problem.

Important to remember is that it is not simply genes that are at play, but also your surroundings and the foods you consume.

The combination of red wine and other high-histamine meals may thus be the cause of your symptoms rather than just the red wine you’re consuming on a regular basis.

You are more vulnerable when you are experiencing hormonal shifts, lack of sleep, or not having eaten lunch.

People who are prone to migraines are more sensitive to wines, as well as to alcoholic beverages in general, than the general population. This may be something that persons who suffer from migraines might like to address with their neurologist or migraine specialist.

First, Debunking the Myth of Sulfites

Good news: sulfites are not the cause of your wine headaches, as you may have suspected. What makes this such excellent news? Sulfites are present in the majority of wines. Sulfur is added to wine because it destroys undesired bacteria and yeasts, which prevents the wine from browning and deteriorating as a result. Sulfites are also a naturally occurring result of fermentation, therefore they are impossible to completely prevent. It is because wines containing more than 10 parts per million (ppm) of sulfites will be labeled with the words “this wine contains sulfites” that sulfites tend to have such a negative reputation.

In truth, just approximately 1 percent of the population is allergic to sulfites, according to the CDC.

Here’s another interesting truth for those of you who have ever had a red wine headache: white wines often have more sulfites added to them than red wines.

The longer the skins and stems of the grapes remain in the juice, the higher the concentration of tannins.

The Three Likely Causes of Your Wine Headaches

Tannins are a kind of polyphenol, which is a chemical molecule found in plants. Tannins are derived from the seeds, skins, and stems of grapes, which are used to make wine. Given that red wine derives its color from the skins of the grapes, it stands to reason that red wine has higher levels of tannins than white wine. What does the flavor of tannins taste like? Tannins are responsible for the astringent character of wine. A drying feeling on the sides of your tongue after drinking a glass of wine indicates that you’re experiencing tannins.

Unfortunately, tannins are known to induce headaches in some individuals.

The Fix for Your Tannin Wine Headaches

A strong cup of black tea can be used to determine whether or not tannins are the source of your headaches. We’re talking about something quite serious. Allow the tea bag to steep for a further 10 minutes or so. Black tea contains a high concentration of tannins, which are released into the boiling water when the tea is over-steeped. If you consume this tea and have a headache, you most likely have a sensitivity to the tannins in it. For those in this situation, red wines with high tannin content, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Tannat, would be a good choice to steer clear.

If you enjoy red wine, consider lighter, lower-tannin reds such as Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Dolcetto if you are a fan of the grape.

You may also try with full-bodied reds from South America, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec, which have lower tannin levels than their French counterparts and are often less expensive.

2. Histamines

Histamines are another molecule that may be present in foods that people enjoy, such as aged cheese, cured meat, and red wine. It is possible that you will have symptoms such as a runny nose, dry eyes, and headaches if your genetics prevent you from properly metabolizing histamine when exposed to this molecule. You are not, however, required to cry (both physically and emotionally) over your cheese board. Here’s what you should do:

The Fix for Your Histamine Wine Headaches

An further molecule present in popular foods such as aged cheeses, cured meats, and red wine is histamine (also known as histidine). The presence of histamine may result in symptoms such as a runny nose, dry eyes, and headaches if your genetics exclude you from properly metabolizing this substance. If you want to cry (both physically and emotionally) over your cheese board, you can do so. What you should do is as follows:

3. Sugar

Histamines are another another molecule that may be found in popular foods such as aged cheese, cured pork, and red wine. It is possible that you will develop symptoms such as a runny nose, dry eyes, and headaches if your genetics prohibit you from metabolizing histamine. You are not required to cry (both physically and emotionally) over your cheese board. Here’s what you need to do:

The Fix for Your Sugar Wine Headache

First and foremost, remember to remain hydrated — both in general and when drinking wine. Drinking wine and water on a glass-for-glass basis is one option, but you may also simply have a beautiful tall glass of water before you begin drinking and again at the end of the night as an alternative. You should also avoid sweeter wines such as dessert wines, white wines that are branded sweet or semi-dry, and red blends that are mass manufactured. Instead, choose for drier reds and whites that are less sweet.

In Vino Finito

Fear not – unless you have a sulfite allergy, sulfites are unlikely to be the source of your headaches after drinking red wine. Keep in mind to keep hydrated when enjoying a glass of wine, and seek medical attention if the condition persists. Want to learn even more about wine? Join our daily email, Glass Half Full, for the latest news and updates.


Our team is made up entirely of wine enthusiasts with a lot of enthusiasm. With our great sommeliers at the helm, we’ve been thoroughly educated on everything related to wine. Writing this essay was a collaborative effort between two friends who wanted to share their knowledge of wines with the world.

Red Wine Headaches, The Cause, Solution, Prevention and Cure for RWH

Many people who consume wine get headaches from time to time. As a matter of fact, it is so widespread that it is commonly referred to as red wine headaches (or RWH). It is true that some of those headaches are produced by overindulging in wine, namely by the alcohol contained inside the wine, but this is not the only cause. That is not to imply that drinking wine does not have any possible health advantages. Please see the following article for more information on the possible, significant health advantages of drinking wine, as well as the calories and nutrition included in most wines: Health and Nutrition Facts of Drinking Wine.

  • Sulfites in red wine include the following: A large number of patients attribute their suffering to allergies to sulfites.
  • Sulfites are utilized as a preservation ingredient in practically every sort of wine, and they are found in almost every variety.
  • Sulfites are found in white wines in concentrations ranging from 250 to 450 parts per million.
  • The fact is that dried fruit, which is the commonly used and agreed-upon litmus test for sulfite allergy, has far greater levels of sulfite, ranging from 1,000 to 3,000 parts per million (parts per million).
  • Sulfites, on the other hand, can cause classic allergy or asthmatic symptoms.
  • This is beneficial since around one percent of the world’s population is allergic to sulfites, which is a small percentage.
  • The following are the causes of red wine headaches, often known as RWH: Based on the evidence so far, it appears that there are two possible causes of the red wine headaches: The culprits are histamines and tyramine, which are both found in all wines and are the cause of the problem!

Tyramine is credited with two different effects.

Tyramine is also responsible for temporarily increasing your blood flow.

That is why the ailment is referred to as red wine headaches, or RWH for short.

While the quantity of Histamines found in wine varies based on the grape type and area, the amount of Tryamine tested in wine remains constant regardless of the grape variety or place.

For my benefit, Bordeaux, as well as most of the famed Bordeaux red wine varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc, are extremely low in tyramine content.

Histamines appear to be the more important of the two in the development of red wine headaches, also known as RWH.

In part because to the fact that histamine levels in red wine are higher than in white wine or Champagne, the condition is commonly referred to as red wine headaches.

Drink at least one full 8-ounce glass of water for every glass of red wine consumed to help avoid or cure the red wine headache.

You can also try taking anti-histamines that are not sleepy before you consume wine. Other potential headache relievers can be discovered in your medical cabinet with little effort. Take an aspirin, ibuprofen, or vitamin B6 before you drink to prevent hangovers.

Red Wine and Headaches: What You Need to Know │ Excedrin®

Red wine is a popular choice for happy hour or dinner party drinks because of its versatility. Some studies have claimed that a glass of wine a day (or two for males) might be beneficial to one’s heart health, and calorie-wise, a glass of cab or pinot noir offers greater value for money than other types of liquor. The majority of red varietals match nicely with pasta and meat, making them an excellent accompaniment to elegant dinners. A negative perception of red wine in particular has persisted, however: it is believed to be associated with headaches.

For people who suffer from migraines, however, there is a plethora of research relating drinking, particularly red wine, to the occurrence of migraines.

New study from the Headache Foundation: According to a study published in the Journal of Head and Face Pain, while the exact cause of red wine’s migraine-inducing potential is unknown, exposure to flavonoid radicals found in red wines, as well as the possibility of these interfering with serotonin levels, are likely at the root of the association between wine and migraine.

  • These compounds include tannins, which are responsible for the somewhat sour sensation you get after drinking the beverage.
  • In that case, what can you do as a migraine sufferer who also appreciates a nice glass of red wine to help alleviate your symptoms?
  • You could find yourself startled by a hefty merlot, but fine with a light, crisp pinot noir instead.
  • You may also be proactive by keeping an Excedrin Migraine bottle on hand at all times.
  • You won’t have to fully forego those delicious red grapes this way.

Why do some people get headaches from red wine?

Red wine headache (“RWH”) is a headache that develops in many people after drinking even a single glass of red wine. It is sometimes accompanied by nausea and flushing. This sickness can manifest itself within 15 minutes of consuming the wine in some cases, but not always. The illness does not manifest itself after consuming white wine or any other alcoholic beverages, though.

Some people have reported that after consuming a few glasses of red wine, they suffer a migraine headache many hours later. There is no definitive explanation for why this condition arises. It’s likely that there are several contributing factors.


It is common for people to have red wine headache (“RWH”) after consuming even one glass of red wine, which is typically accompanied by nausea and flushing. In certain cases, this sickness might manifest itself within 15 minutes of the wine’s drinking. Drinking white wine or other alcoholic drinks does not result in the development of the disorder. Following the consumption of red wines, some people have reported experiencing migraine headaches many hours later. Everyone believes that this condition is caused by a genetic factor.

You might be interested:  How Many Glasses Of Wine In A Bottle? (Question)


RWH is most likely not caused by histamines, with the exception of a few rare cases. When compared to white wine, red wine contains 20-200 times the amount of histamines, and people who are allergic to histamines are lacking in a certain enzyme. Some specialists feel that the combination of alcohol and that deficit may be responsible for the headaches they experience. However, according to a research published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (Feb 2001), there was no difference in reactivity between low and high histamine wines in 16 patients who had an allergy to red wine.

This would indicate whether or not histamines were the source of the individual’s issue or not.

If one intends to consume alcohol during the course of an evening, it is recommended to drink another cup or two of black tea during the evening.

Luke’s Episcopal Hospital in Houston, Texas, quercetin, a bioflavonoid present in black tea, dramatically reduces the headache/flush reaction (which is an inflammatory impact caused by histamines).


Another school of thought holds that tannins are at the origin of RWH. Tannins are flavonoids found in wine that contribute to the amount of mouth-drying bitterness it has. When you bite into a grape skin, the taste is similar to that of a grape. Tannin is a chemical compound found in grape skins, stems, and seeds. Tannin is a natural preservative. The skins also contribute to the color of the wine, which is why red wines often contain far more tannin than white wines. Red wines ferment in touch with the skins and seeds of the grapes they are made from.

  • Wines can also absorb tannins from the oak or other woods used in wine barrels for storage, which can be detrimental to their flavor.
  • Tannins aid in the prevention of oxidation, which plays a significant part in a wine’s ability to age.
  • Because of the shorter maceration period in certain wine types, the tannin level is significantly lower than in others (grape juice contact with the grape pulp, including sources of tannin such as stems, seeds).
  • Vintage port, as well as wines derived from the syrah (shiraz) and cabernet sauvignon grapes, are quite tannic when they are first released.
  • Wines created from the grapes Pinot Noir and Sangiovese, as well as Spanish Riojas, are less tannic than other varieties.
  • A simple method to recognize these lower-tannic wine bottles on a retail shelf is to search for the “Burgundy bottle” with a sloping shoulder on the label.
  • A variation exists between the kinds and brands of red wine as well as the amount of wine that may be consumed before experiencing a headache, although reports have not been constant from one individual to the next.
  • The Harvard Health Letterreports on multiple well-controlled trials that demonstrate that tannins stimulate the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter, when consumed.
  • However, this does not explain why persons who do not suffer from migraines get RWH in the first place.
  • Marion Nestle, chairperson of the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at New York University, stated that, despite the fact that tea, soy, and chocolate all contain tannins, no one complains about headaches caused by these foods.

The tannins that are hydrolyzable are removed from the oak wood that the wine is matured in. Tannins that can be hydrolyzed are more readily oxidized than condensed tannins.


It is possible that RWH is induced by the production of prostaglandins, which some people are unable to digest well. Prostaglandins are chemicals that can cause discomfort and edema in some individuals. Prostaglandin inhibitors include medications such as ibuprofen (Advil), acetaminophen (Tylenol), and aspirin. It has been shown that taking an inhibitor one hour before ingesting red wine has positive consequences for certain people. Early and late phases of the RWH were demonstrated to be effectively blocked by aspirin and ibuprofen, whereas acetaminophen was proven to be effective in inhibiting the early stage.

Other possibilities

Some people are not able to metabolize prostaglandins, which might be the cause of RWH in some cases. Inflammatory and pain-inducing chemicals known as prostaglandins can be produced. A class of medications known as prostaglandin inhibitors includes ibuprofen (Advil), acetaminophen (Tylenol), and aspirin. An inhibitor taken an hour before ingesting red wine has shown to be effective for certain persons. Early and late phases of the RWH were demonstrated to be effectively blocked by aspirin and ibuprofen, but acetaminophen was proven to be effective in inhibiting the early stage alone.


  1. K. MacNeil is a fictional character created by author K. MacNeil. Page 34 of The Wine Bible Workman Publishing, 2001
  2. Kaufman and D. Starr, Prevention of the Red Wine Headache (RWH)
  3. A Blind Controlled Study (Prevention of the Red Wine Headache
  4. A Blind Controlled Study). In New Advances in Headache Research, 2nd edition, edited by F. Clifford Rose, Smith-Gordon, 1991
  5. In New Advances in Headache Research, 2nd edition, edited by F. Clifford Rose, Smith-Gordon, 1991

External links

  • Red Wine Headaches that are perplexing
  • Red Wine Headache Mysteries

Why Does Red Wine Cause Headache and Migraine?

Do you ever feel that the initial pleasure of consuming red wine is followed by a migraine attack? However, while you may be cursing yourself for downing that glass of pinot noir, the specific etiology of red wine-induced headaches and migraines is uncertain. Great. So, what exactly is going on with your throbbing noggin? Here’s everything you need to know about cab sav and merlot before you give them up for good. In accordance with the American Migraine Foundation, all alcoholic beverages have the potential to cause an instant or delayed headache.

According to a 2019 poll of 2,197 migraine sufferers, approximately 80 percent of those who reported alcohol-induced migraine actually blamed red wine for their symptoms.

However, the specific cause of amigraine after a few glasses of red wine is likely to be multidimensional and may be caused by a combination of the following factors.

Dehydration and vasodilation

Any alcoholic beverage has the potential to be harmful to your health. Drinking alcohol has the effect of widening blood vessels, particularly those in the brain, because of the presence of ethanol in it. Vasodilation has the potential to activate particular neurons in your brain that are involved in the production of a pain response. Alcohol is also a diuretic, and it stimulates your kidneys to respond by increasing their output (i.e., having to pee mere minutes after you get back to the barstool).

Before you realize it, you’ve gotten yourself into a state of extreme dehydration. While these effects are not particular to wine, they may play a role in exacerbating the effects of the dreaded petite sirah headache.

Histamine sensitivity

Histamine is found in grape skins, which are substances that are involved in immune responses and are produced during allergic reactions. Histamine is also found in the skins of other fruits and vegetables. White wine has a lower histamine level than red wine since it is manufactured without the use of grape skin (which contains the whole grape). As a result, it’s probable that having a histamine sensitivity will make you more prone to getting a headache when you consume red wine. However, according to the (admittedly limited) study, this is not the case.

The researchers came to the conclusion that there is no relationship between wine sensitivity/intolerance and the amount of histamine in the beverage.


Red wine contains a higher concentration of tannins as a result of the skins of the grapes. Essentially, these plant compounds give your body the go-ahead to manufacture serotonin (commonly known as the “happy hormone”), which can (unfortunately) result in headaches in some people. Tannins, which are found in higher concentrations in red wine than in white wine, are frequently implicated as a contributing factor to migraine attacks. Nonetheless, while there is some recent study from 2009 that suggests a correlation between consuming more tannin-containing alcohol and having a worse hangover, there isn’t really any proof that they may trigger migraines after only a couple of glasses of wine.


Sulfites are substances that arise naturally during the fermentation process and have been implicated as a cause of headaches. During the wine-making process, additional sulfites may be added to aid in the preservation of the beverage. However, if you are sulfite sensitive, you are more likely to encounter breathing difficulties or congestion than you are to get headaches. In addition, the amount of sulfites in red and white wine is normally the same.

Other red wine headache triggers

Whether or whether you develop a headache after drinking red wine may be determined by a number of different variables other than just drinking wine. These may include the following:

  • You may have a headache after drinking red wine if you do so. This is dependent on a number of things other than simply drinking wine. This list might include the following items:

If you’ve identified red wine as a frequent headache culprit, it may be advisable to eliminate vin rouge from your beverage cabinet entirely. However, if abstaining from your beloved malbec is out of the question, the following lifestyle adjustments may help you avoid red wine migraine attacks:

  • Selecting high-quality wines in limited amounts is important. Drinking wine on an empty stomach is not recommended. Drink lots of water both before and after you consume alcohol. Wait an hour before you have your second glass of wine
  • Slowly sip your glass of wine. It is not recommended to combine wine with other beverages. Stop drinking wine as soon as you sense any discomfort in your head.

It may also be beneficial to keep a food record in order to narrow down the list of foods and beverages that cause your symptoms. Because wines are prepared from a variety of grapes, preservatives, and other additives, there are a plethora of possible contaminants. Speaking with a doctor and an allergist may also be beneficial in identifying the food or drink that is causing your headache. According to a short study conducted in 2014, strong tannin red wines such as tannats and malbecs were the most likely to cause migraine headaches in study participants.

While this notion is still mostly untested, the premise is that consuming wine with less tannins will result in fewer headaches. As a result, in addition to drinking white wine (with milder tannins), you may wish to experiment with red wines that have fewer tannins, such as:

In most cases, a pounding headache the next morning is the result of a hangover rather than a migraine triggered by red wine, according to the Mayo Clinic. Naturally, drinking wine or any other form of alcoholic beverage can result in a hangover headache, but the severity of the headache is determined by how much you drink rather than what you consume. HANGOVERS are mostly triggered by the dehydrating characteristics of alcoholic beverages. Another cause of hangover headaches is an accumulation of acetaldehyde, a harmful byproduct formed when your body breaks down the ethanol you consumed.

If you overindulge in wine, there’s bad news: some preliminary study suggests that a wine hangover may actually be more acute.

It is possible that your body will have to work harder to break down the ethanol and congeners, resulting in you feeling terrible and depleted.

  • Don’t be stingy with your food. Restore your blood sugar levels by consuming a substantial amount of carbohydrates. A glass of orange juice, along with some eggs and toast, should enough
  • Remember to stay hydrated. A chugging session of Gatorade after a long day at work may actually be beneficial in relieving your headache. (However, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, there hasn’t been enough study done on this topic yet.) Electrolyte levels are depleted as a result of excessive fluid loss caused by alcohol use, but foods such as bananas, spinach, kale, and avocados can help restore them to normal. Consider taking some ginseng. Ginseng is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that may be able to assist your body in more effectively breaking down alcohol. This may assist to prevent the aches and pains of the next day. In a short 2014 research, males who drank a red ginseng hangover treatment after consuming a glass of whiskey had lower blood alcohol levels and less hangover symptoms than those who did not drink the remedy. Pain treatment is important. Try using a cold compress and resting down in a dark room, just like you would for any other type of headache. Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen may also be beneficial.

Despite the fact that your discomfort is legitimate, there is no conclusive scientific evidence linking migraines to red wine. The comparatively high tannin and histamine content of red wine, when compared to other forms of alcohol, may have a role in the development of headaches and migraines. The consumption of wine types with lower tannin content (such as merlot or pinot noir) in lesser quantities may aid in the relief of symptoms or have no effect at all. If you suspect that red wine is the source of your headaches, keep a food log to assist you identify the specific foods that are triggering your symptoms.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *