What In Red Wine Causes Headaches? (Perfect 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.

Why does drinking red wine give me a headache?

  • The simple medical explanation for red wine headaches is, Histamines dilate your blood vessels and bring on the flushing and inflammatory sensations. Tyramine gets credit for two effects.


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.

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.

What kind of 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.

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)

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.

Do sulfites in wine give you a headache?

But scientists have found no link between sulfites in wine and headaches. In fact, for people who have this allergy, the typical response is not a headache but hives and difficulty breathing. What’s more, white wines generally have more added sulfites than reds.

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 red wine trigger migraines?

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.

How do you stop a red wine headache?

Other ways to prevent a wine headache Avoid drinking wine on an empty stomach. Drink a full glass of water before drinking wine. If you’re going to have a second glass of wine, be sure to wait at least an hour, and drink a full glass of water before the second glass of wine. Sip your wine slowly.

Which red wines are low in histamines?

Certified Low Histamine Wines

  • Dolcetto D’Alba Doc Low Histamine.
  • Diano D’alba Doc Low histamine.
  • Barbera D’Alba Doc Low Histamines.
  • Langhe Chardonnay Doc Low histamines.

Which red wines do not have tannins?

Pinot noir is actually one of the most popular red wines because it is a low tannin red wine. Pinot noir is fruit-forward and pairs well with many dishes. Its low tannin levels make it easy to drink and enjoy. Rainstorm makes a gorgeous organic pinot noir from Willamette Valley, Oregon.

Can you really remove sulfites from wine?

Hydrogen peroxide oxidizes sulfites, turning sulfite into hydrogen sulfate, which does not cause the types of problems that are associated with sulfites. It’s long been said that a few drops of H2O2 in your wine will eliminate the sulfites altogether, at least in theory.

What are the side effects of sulfites in wine?

Sulfite reactions normally affect breathing, but some people with sensitivity have skin reactions, such as hives, or digestive problems, such as abdominal pain or diarrhea. Some individuals experience a mixture of symptoms, including respiratory, skin, and digestive reactions.

What alcohol is high in sulfites?

Beer, brown liquor, and ciders are high in histamines and sulfites, so stick to natural wines and clear liquors.

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:

  • Aged cheese, eggplant, sauerkraut, spinach, salmon, sausage, and salami are some of the options.


Grape skins also contain plant compounds known as tannins, which contribute to the flavor of wine by helping to preserve its color. Some people have headaches when they consume tannins because they induce the body to release serotonin. Tannins are found in greater quantities in red wines than in white wines. The tannins in tea, dark chocolate, and various berries and nuts are just a few of the foods that contain this compound. Tannins are believed to be responsible for the onset of migraines in persons who are taking migraine prevention medications.


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. When you have a wine headache, it’s best to put your wine glass down and think about one or more of the tactics listed below to alleviate the symptoms.

  • To be sure, excessive consumption of any form of alcoholic beverage can result in a headache known as a hangover. When you have a wine headache, it’s best to put your wine glass down and think about one or more of the solutions listed below.

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 variety of grape varieties available as well as preservatives and other ingredients 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 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.

While sulfites can exacerbate asthma symptoms, they do not induce headaches in healthy individuals. 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 research, it was discovered that foods and beverages that have been aged, such as dry aged meats and red wines, can cause our bodies to release 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.
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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.

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 who 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.
  5. But it wasn’t.
  6. I took a chance and ended up with a pounding headache that I had to smile and bear for the rest of the night.

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

Then what is the culprit, if not the sulfites themselves? However, two kinds of naturally occurring substances present in red wines, phenolic flavonoids and biogenic amines, are the primary candidates, according to scientists. Phenolic flavonoids are a type of flavonoid that is found in red wine, while biogenic amines are a type of amine found in red wine. Understanding these compounds runs the risk of delving into the realm of high school chemistry geekery; however, the most important thing to remember is that phenolic flavonoids are comprised of a large number of molecules that contribute to a wine’s color, flavor, and mouthfeel; these molecules are all concentrated in the skin, seeds, and stems of grapes (and all of which contain good-for-you antioxidants).

  • Upon ingestion, these molecules can bounce around your body, blocking specific enzymes in your stomach and activating the release of serotonin in your brain, all of which can result in responses that have been associated with headaches.
  • The truth is that not all red wines have the same characteristics.
  • Abouch Krymchantowski and Carla Jevoux at The Headache Center of Rio in Brazil.
  • Bordeaux drinkers had headaches in 60% of cases, whereas South American Cabernet drinkers experienced headaches in 40% of cases.
  • Here’s what went into making the wines.
  • Nevertheless, Dr.
  • This results in less extraction of tannins and other flavonoids during the manufacturing process, perhaps making these wines more tolerable for those who suffer from headaches.
  • Although he admits to being a wine enthusiast, Dr.
  • In his opinion, wines with greater levels of tannins and other flavonoids, such as “tannat” or “cabernet sauvignon,” particularly those from the left bank of the Gironde, “as well as certain Syrahs from South America,” are worse than those with lower levels of tannins and other flavonoids.
  • His favorite Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, from the Stags Leap District, gives his wife a headache almost every time he serves it.

In contrast, she is completely unbothered by a Cabernet Sauvignon from a local winery. What are your plans?” “So, what are you going to do?” That’s what I inquired about. “I usually try to buy the second bottle of wine,” he said, reflecting his wisdom.

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.

Wine Headaches: What Causes Them and How to Prevent Them

You might be interested in learning more about your wine tastes. Make use of our simple 7-question survey to receive tailored wine recommendations! What about headaches after drinking a glass of wine, sometimes known as “wine headaches,” do you ever experience them? Yes, you read that correctly: we didn’t say after a few glasses of wine. It goes without saying that overindulging is never a smart idea, whether it’s on the sofa or at the corporate Christmas party. Sipping wine gently enhances the enjoyment of the beverage, and your body will thank you for not overindulging.

The vast majority of individuals (happily) can drink wine without experiencing headaches, but some people will get wine headaches, though not all of the time and not with every type of wine.

Surprise, surprise: it’s not what you expect.

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.

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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. Tannins are high in antioxidants and are believed to have health-promoting properties. 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.

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

If you know you have an allergy to histamines, you can take a Claritin before having a glass of red wine to prevent allergic reactions. Additionally, you may stick to red wines that are low in histamines, such as Dolcetto and Barbera, or try these varietals from Italian producer Sebastiano Ramello. The discovery by Sebastiano’s mother that she had a histamine sensitivity led him to make wines that had tenth the amount of histamines present in a typical bottle of red wine for the Veglio winery in Piedmont.

The majority of mass-market wines sold in grocery stores, particularly red mixes, are high in sugar, which might result in a headache after drinking them.

3. Sugar

Sugar, particularly when used in conjunction with alcohol, can create a headache. When you drink a sugary beverage and are not well hydrated, your body will draw water from its own reservoir. You’ll experience a headache as soon as the water drains from your head.

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.

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 story, I spoke with someone who has been involved in the production 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.

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.

  1. Sulfites in red wine include the following: A large number of patients attribute their suffering to allergies to sulfites.
  2. Sulfites are utilized as a preservation ingredient in practically every sort of wine, and they are found in almost every variety.
  3. Sulfites are found in white wines in concentrations ranging from 250 to 450 parts per million.
  4. 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).
  5. Sulfites, on the other hand, can cause classic allergy or asthmatic symptoms.
  6. This is beneficial since around one percent of the world’s population is allergic to sulfites, which is a small percentage.
  7. 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.

How to Cure a Wine Headache

Hopefully, you came on this page while searching for information about red wine headaches. Most of the time, there are just three things you need to do to resolve your issue.

Already have a wine headache?

The next post discusses what you can do to avoid a wine headache (yes, it is possible!). If, on the other hand, you are already suffering, you should read this essay.

Wine Headaches Suck

I used to suffer a headache after drinking red wine, it felt like after every glass. No matter how hard I prayed, the dreaded Red Wine Headache (RWH) would hit me every time. It would begin around an hour after I had begun drinking alcohol. The fact that I was making rookie blunders at the time wasn’t apparent to me until afterwards. This offer expires on January 31! From now through the end of January, you may save money by purchasing only one book on wine and one digital course. Read on to find out more

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3 Tricks to Remedy a Wine Headache

1-2 glasses of water with each glass of wine is a good rule of thumb. The most prevalent error that wine drinkers make is underhydrating themselves. Because you’re already drinking, it’s easy to lose track of time. When there is wine involved, hydration is essential, and water is just what you require. Preferably, have a glass of water before you enjoy a glass of wine to avoid dehydration. Although it may annoy your waiter, your forehead will thank you for your efforts. 2 Prior to consuming alcohol, take “two.” I’m referring to two aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen tablets.

  1. Having said that, over-the-counter blood thinners can be beneficial.
  2. Because I’m offering over-the-counter medications and I’m not your doctor, it’s important that you check with him or her first.
  3. 3 Don’t consume sugary foods when drinking wine.
  4. Even though confetti cake sounds particularly delicious (especially after a glass of wine), the combined effects of sugar and alcohol will significantly increase the likelihood of a headache.

What Causes a Wine Headache?

When I first began drinking wine, I experienced a lot of headaches. As it turns out, my wine selections (which included a cheapo grocery store wine) may have played a role in the reaction. When wines are poorly manufactured, they tend to have more adulteration, such as residual sugar, sulfur, fining agents, or a greater alcohol content in order to improve their flavor.

The likelihood of a headache increases if the item is packaged in a box or has a cartoon creature on the label. It’s questionable if it comes in a box or is labeled with a creature on it since it has the potential to cause headaches.

MYTH: Sulfites in Wine Cause Headaches

In the 1980s, the Food and Drug Administration determined that around one percent of the population was allergic to sulfites, which was a significant finding. In order to protect the health of the sensitive population, wines containing sulfites in excess of 20 ppm (parts per million) must be labeled as “contains sulfites.” A naturally occurring sulfur compound on grapes, sulfur is also commonly added in small amounts at the start of fermentation and just before bottling. Typically, red wines contain between 50 and 350 parts per million (ppm), and white wines have between 250 and 450 parts per million (ppm) (because of extreme sensitivity to light, heat and discoloration).

Dried mangoes and apricots contain around 4-10 times the amount of sulfites found in wine (1000-3000 ppm).

FACT: Histamines Cause Inflammation

Dr. Freitag of the Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago originally published an article in which he hypothesized that histamines were to blame for the occurrence of red wine headaches (1). Tofu, tempeh, champagne, red wine, ketchup, and aged meats are examples of foods that contain high quantities of histamines because they have been fermented or aged. Histamines can produce inflammatory flushing as well as excessive waking throughout the night. Because most histamines are known to trigger allergic responses (similar to hay fever), taking an anti-histamine before drinking may be a good idea to avoid the problem.

THEORY: Sensitivity to Tannins

Tannin is responsible for the color, bitterness, and mouth-drying response that characterizes red wine. It is also responsible for the lengthy shelf life of red wines. Because white wines contain far less tannin than red wines, many people who suffer from red wine headaches attribute their condition to tannin. The tannin in grapes is derived from the skins, seeds, and stems of the fruit, as well as from wood. Many commercial wines also contain tannins derived from commercially refined sources such as chestnut, Indian gooseberry, gambir leaf, and the wood of a particularly dense, dark-wooded Spanish tree known as Quebracho, which grows in the Andes.

THEORY: Increased Tyramine Levels

Tyramine levels rise when foods age and proteins are broken down, which is a result of the breakdown of proteins. tyramine (a kind of amine) has been demonstrated to be a key headache-causing factor in the case of migraine sufferers when it has been isolated and studied. The enzyme is responsible for the constriction of blood vessels. Among the foods that include it are aged cheese, cured ham, yogurt, soy sauce (beans), shrimp paste (coconut), yeast (yeast), bananas (with or without raisins), raspberries (with or without peanuts), pineapple (with or without avocado), eggplant (with or without eggplant), and others.

Having said that, persons who are exposed to tyramine on a regular basis are less likely to be impacted by it. So… Perhaps more constant wine consumption will be required to overcome the traditional RWH? When you’re not getting enough water, don’t jump to the conclusion that it’s your fault.

NOTE: Allergic Reactions to Alcohol or Yeast

Because wine includes both alcohol and yeast, people who have a high sensitivity to either should exercise caution while drinking it. Hard cheeses and bread (what?!?) should be avoided while attempting to keep your yeast consumption under control when drinking wine. Overall, evaluate your hypotheses thoroughly and don’t be hasty in blaming wine when you aren’t getting enough water in.

This Is Why Red Wine Gives You Headaches

There are those among us who can easily down a bottle of red wine with no issue (not that we recommend it, of course). Even if we drink only a tiny glass of cabernet sauvignon, there are those among us who will end up suffering from a red wine headache the next day. But why is it that just some of us are susceptible to the nefarious effects of red wine, while the rest of the world may continue to guzzle it down like there’s nothing to worry about? (At least until the next day, when the hangover sets in.) For starters, red wine headaches are distinct from hangover headaches in that they are not caused by alcohol use.

  • In most cases, hangover headaches aren’t caused by the alcohol itself, but rather by dehydration and the buildup of acetaldehyde, which is a byproduct produced by your body when it metabolizes ethanol, which is the type of alcohol found in all drinks.
  • However, if you experience pain after only one or two glasses of wine, your headache is most likely caused by a migraine.
  • The next time you suffer a headache after only one glass of wine but have never been diagnosed with migraines before, consult your doctor to figure out what’s wrong.
  • In many red wines, sulfites are present in high concentrations.
  • People are quick to attribute headaches to sulfites, and the suggestion of a link has even prompted the creation of a sulfite-free wine market, but Dr.
  • White wine, on the other hand, can have the same amount of sulfites as red wine, if not more.
  • In contrast, many other alcoholic beverages have comparable levels of both of these compounds yet are not known to produce migraines as frequently as red wine, according to Dr.

It even came to the point that a study was conducted in which 16 subjects with wine intolerance were given antihistamines (allergy medication) before consuming red wine in order to counteract the effects of histamines, but the treatment had no significant effect on the negative outcomes they experienced.

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.

It’s likely that there are several contributing factors.


Many people believe that sulfites, which are present in wine, are the cause of RWH because the wine contains a sulfite warning label. This isn’t the case at all. Sulfites are found in almost all types of wine. Many sweet white wines have significantly higher levels of sulfites than red wines. Dried fruit and processed foods such as lunchmeat contain significantly higher levels of sulfites than red wine. The presence of sulfites causes sensitivity in less than 1% of the population.


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.

  1. Wines can also absorb tannins from the oak or other woods used in wine barrels for storage, which can be detrimental to their flavor.
  2. Tannins aid in the prevention of oxidation, which plays a significant part in a wine’s ability to age.
  3. 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).
  4. Vintage port, as well as wines derived from the syrah (shiraz) and cabernet sauvignon grapes, are quite tannic when they are first released.
  5. Wines created from the grapes Pinot Noir and Sangiovese, as well as Spanish Riojas, are less tannic than other varieties.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. The Harvard Health Letterreports on multiple well-controlled trials that demonstrate that tannins stimulate the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter, when consumed.
  9. However, this does not explain why persons who do not suffer from migraines get RWH in the first place.
  10. 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

Another theory is that RWH is caused by a strain of yeast or bacteria prevalent in red wine, which might lead to the disease.


  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

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