What In Wine Causes 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.

What is the best wine to avoid headaches?

  • Serotonin is a “happy” neurotransmitter, but too much of it can cause headaches. The dryer the wine, the more tannins it is likely to contain, so to avoid headaches, avoid red wines, especially very dry ones. White wines like chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, sauterne and pinot grigio are good choices.


Can sulfites in wine cause headaches?

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.

How do you avoid a headache when drinking wine?

Some answers:

  1. What causes a “wine headache”?
  2. What can you do to prevent it?
  3. Drink water before, or as, you drink wine.
  4. Consider taking an antihistamine before drinking wine, advises Dr.
  5. Drink two cups of strong coffee before you drink wine.

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.

Why does wine in Italy not give you a headache?

” Contains sulfites ” is on all bottles of wine sold in the United States, no matter where the wine was made, because of our government’s regulations, rules that do not hold outside the U.S. Anyway, most people do not “get a headache” from ingesting sulfites. The “typical allergic reaction to sulfites,” says Dr.

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 does not have tannins?

With a physician’s approval, unoaked white wines like Sauvignon Blancs, Pinot Grigios and Rieslings would be the first place to start for someone with tannin sensitivity. Rosés, which are made from red grapes but do not get much contact with the skins, are also much less tannic than traditional red wines.

How do you get rid of a wine headache fast?

The most important thing you need to do is drink water. Go to the faucet right now and force yourself to drink 2 glasses of water. You can also take an over-the-counter pain reliever to reduce your headache. Most people will take ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) to take away a headache.

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.

Which wines are low in histamine?

Sparkling, white and rosé wines all are low histamine wines when compared to reds. And, it’s not even a small difference. Red wine can have as much as 20–200% more histamine than white wine (refer to the table below)!

Can you be allergic to certain wines?

Although allergies to wine and other types of alcohol are rare, they’re possible. Wine contains a variety of allergens, including grapes, yeast, and ethanol. If you have a wine allergy, you may experience symptoms such as a rash, nasal congestion, wheezing, or a tingling sensation around your mouth and throat.

Does white wine have sulfites?

Since white wine contains more sulfites than red, it is unlikely that sulfites are to blame. Also, sulfites are also high in certain foods, such as dried fruit, soy sauce, and pickles. If the sulfites in wine cause headaches, these foods should cause a similar reaction.

How do you reduce sulfites in wine?

In theory, you can remove sulfites by adding hydrogen peroxide to your wine.

Does imported wine have sulfites?

Wines sold in the United States have the “contains sulfites” note on wine labels, but wines sold in Italy do not, simply because labeling laws differ from country to country. Italian wines imported to the U.S. have to have this “contains sulfites” wording on their labels before being sold here.

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. 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.

  1. When it comes to winemaking, there are a range of grape varieties available as well as preservatives and other substances to consider.
  2. Any form of alcoholic beverage, especially if consumed in excess, can cause a headache.
  3. 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.
  4. It is not unusual to get a wine headache, although the cause is not always evident.
  5. If you get a wine headache on a regular basis, this does not always indicate that you should stop drinking wine in the future.
  6. Drinking gently and limiting the amount of alcohol you consume may also help you avoid a headache.
  7. 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 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.
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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.

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.

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.

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.

  • Even a single glass of wine might set off a chain reaction.
  • For example, I was invited to a dinner party hosted by a fashionable acquaintance last year and had a great time.
  • The hue of the wine was that of rubies.
  • The woman said, “I’ve got some type ofRiesling in the fridge.” I was on the fence.
  • But it wasn’t.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • Red wines, on the other hand, are not made equal.
  • Abouch Krymchantowski and Dr.
  • They were instructed to consume the wines on separate evenings and to keep track of their impressions in a journal.
  • 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.

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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.

Here’s What’s Causing Your Wine Headaches. And It’s Not What You Think

You’ve almost certainly had a severe wine headache at some time in your wine-drinking career at least once. Because so many people are curious about what causes wine headaches and how to avoid them, I’m going to clarify some myths and provide you with three suggestions to help you enjoy wine without the discomfort.

Do sulfites in wine cause headaches?

Let’s dispel this urban legend! Sulfites are the traces of sulfur dioxide (often known as ‘SO2’) that may be found in wine and other fermented beverages. Some of these sulfites exist naturally in the environment. Some of these wines are produced as a consequence of a little amount of SO2 being added by the winemaker during the bottling process to help stabilize the wine and prevent spoiling. Due to the fact that wine is an agricultural product, it is not normally shelf-stable unless a preservative is added, and sulfur dioxide is a particularly efficient preservative.

‘Contains Sulfites’ must be printed on the label of any wine containing more than 20 ppm (parts-per-million) sulfur dioxide, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Wonder if you’re allergic to sulfites?

Everything from dried fruit to french fries to tomato soup contains far more sulfites than wine! In other words, if you can have a dried mango or an apricot without experiencing any negative side effects, you should be fine with that glass of Pinot Noir. White wines contain more sulfites than red wines, so if you believe you are sensitive to sulfites, stick to reds.

Here’s a helpful infographic fromWine Follyshowing the different levels of sulfites in common foodsbeverages:

Wine that is extremely inexpensive (for example, the kinds with adorable critter-shaped pastry on the label and other wines in that category) is likely to have been created with low-quality grapes and then treated with chemicals in order to make it taste more appealing. These wines can be chaptalized, which means that sugar is added to the unfermented grape juice in order to increase the amount of alcohol in the finished product. They may be refined and filtered with a variety of chemicals; synthetic substances can be added to contribute tannin or acid; and they can be sprayed with food coloring to give them a vibrant appearance.

  1. If you’re interested in learning more about the 11 most frequent chemicals that might be hiding in your wine, check out this article.
  2. I liken them to junk food in terms of flavor and price.
  3. However, they’re also laden with a slew of substances you can’t name that aren’t really beneficial to your health.
  4. The majority of respectable wineries do not actually load their wines with sugar, additives, and coloring to make them taste better (learn more about thathere).

When it comes to wine headaches, the additional $5 you spend on a bottle from a vineyard that doesn’t load their wines with superfluous ingredients will save you a lot of money on Ibuprofen over the long haul.


You can image the devastation alcohol has on your system, especially when you’re already dehydrated. I get dehydration headaches even when I’m not drinking wine—for example, from being out in the hot sun all day. You should be OK if you drink one glass of water (or two, if you’re on the beach) for every glass of wine you consume.


If you’re experiencing wine headaches, it’s likely that you’re consuming too much alcohol. A wine hangover, on the other hand, is not enjoyable! To stay on the safe side, limit yourself to two glasses. “I prefer a martini/ Two at the most/ Three, I’m under the table/ Four, I’m beneath my host,” Dorothy Parker once remarked. Why don’t we apply it to wine as well?

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.

  1. Russ Parsons: I’d want to thank you for your time.
  2. 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.
  3. Nadia Berenstein (Nadia Berenstein): I’m one of those folks that gets headaches after drinking red wine.
  4. 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.
  5. On the whole, I believe that we have a tendency to assume that because wines have a sulfite warning label on them, that it must be a potentially dangerous chemical that is causing our discomfort, but this is not the case.
  6. When they ingest food that contains sulfite they experience an allergic reaction; they can break out in a rash or have trouble breathing.
  7. For the rest of us, we see that warning label and we conclude that it must be the reason of our discomfort.

Sulfites have been added to wines in modest quantities by winemakers since antiquity.

They keep red wines bright.

And they’re also a natural byproduct of fermentation, so it’s impossible to make a truly sulfite-free wine.

So, if you don’t get a headache from eating dried apricots you probably shouldn’t assume that sulfites are the cause of your headache.

NB:Yes, this is true.

But again, we’re talking about very small quantities.

NB:Scientists who have studied this think that it’s one of two different kinds of substances.

These are compounds like tannins that are in the skins and stems of grapes.

They contribute to the taste and texture of wine.

In the body they not only give us the full mouth experience of a Bordeax, they can also do things like cause your brain to release serotonin or produce different enzymatic reactions in your gut that have been linked to headaches.

They are chemicals like histamine; they are basically a byproduct of the fermentation process that goes into winemaking.

RP: Why does this seem to happen more with red wines than with white wines, and also more with certain red wines than other red wines?

Essentially, the different levels of these compounds in different kinds of wines vary depending on the type of grape and the way that it’s produced.

Red wines that are produced in certain ways have higher levels.

Those things are what make us like those wines, butmaycontribute to some of the suffering afterwards.

Since these are produced by the microorganisms that cause the wine to ferment, you can actually decrease the level of histamines, for instance, in wines by very closely attending to the production process.


His name is Sebastiano Ramello, and he is an Italian wine consultant.

His mother started complaining of having severe headaches.

Now, Sebastiano really loves red wine, but he also really loves his mother; he could not accept this.

It’s a more intensive process than you would think.

You have to be careful and controlled about the conditions in the field and the condition in the cellar.

RP: Until this type of winemaking becomes more widespread, are there types of red wines that are safer than others for people that are sensitive, and how do you identifythem?

If you are someone who suffers from red wine headaches, it might be difficult to determine what exactly are the compounds in wine that you are sensitive to; there are many potential culprits.

If you are someone who thinks you might be sensitive to phenolic flavonoids, you can try to not drink much red wine or try lighter varieties; stay away from the Bordeaux and bottles that are meant to age.

If you think you are sensitive to compounds like biogenic amines – for example, if you get flushed when you drink a glass of red wine – you may want to pay attention to grapes and production processes.

RP: Since this seems to affect some people but not others, is there a genetic component to this?

For people that are histamine-sensitive, I believe this has been linked with certain genes.

Salumi, nuts, dried fruits – all of these things are high in histamines.

Another thing is that your sensitivity or your susceptibility to headaches also varies depending upon fluctuations in your personal health and your personal physiological state.

It’s not just the wine; it’s also you. People who are prone to migraines tend to be more sensitive to wines and to alcoholic beverages in general. For those people that might be something they want to discuss with their neurologist or their migraine doctor.

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. Purchase the book and receive the course! With the purchase of Wine Folly: Magnum Edition, you will receive a FREE copy of the Wine 101 Course (a $50 value). Read on to find out more

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.

  • Having said that, over-the-counter blood thinners can be beneficial.
  • 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 Don’t consume sugary foods when drinking wine.
  • 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.
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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 routinely added in tiny 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 first published a paper 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 development of acetaldehyde, which is a byproduct produced by your body as it metabolizes ethanol, which is the type of alcohol contained in all beverages.
  • However, if you have discomfort 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.

Wine and Headache

N Objectives Steps of the Study Results
Krymchantowski and Jevoux39 40 To assess the prevalence of headaches within 12 hours of consuming different aSouth American red wines 375 mL of red wines were given at least 4 days apart Rates of migraine were
Krymchantowski and Jevoux49 28 To assess the prevalence of headaches within 12 hours of consuming CS from France and from South America 375 mL of different CS were given at least 4 days apart Rates of migraine were

  1. P.001 indicates that the French CS is 60.9 percent and that the South American CS is 391 percent.

Tannat is a red wine grape that has traditionally been produced in the south-west of France. It is today one of the most widely planted grape varieties in Uruguay, where it is referred to as the “national grape” because of its distinctive flavor. 39It is also cultivated in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, and the Puglia area of Italy, where it is used as a blending grape in a variety of wines. Small experimental plantings of the vine have been established in the US states of Maryland and Virginia, and plantings in California have risen substantially in the first few years of the twenty-first century.

  • Additionally, contemporary winemaking has begun to make use of oak aging to help soften the tannins in the wine.
  • Tannats from Uruguay are unusually strong in tannins, and depending on the winemaking processes used, they may have the highest tannin level of any red wine from South America.
  • It is one of the six grapes allowed to be used in the blend of red Bordeaux wine.
  • It ripens in the middle of the growing season and may produce wines with rich color, abundant tannin, and a distinct plum-like taste component that can enhance the complexity of claret blends.
  • It is becoming increasingly popular as an Argentine varietal wine, and it is being planted in more and more places across the world.
  • In other regions, the vine is known as Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • 47 In Argentina, Malbec gets softer, with a plusher mouthfeel and riper tannins than in other parts of the world.

It is common for Malbec cultivated in the state of Washington to have dark berry flavors as well as herbal scents.

48 French Bordeaux from the left bank of the Gironde River are higher in tannins than other Bordeaux varieties because they include a minimum of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.

The quality of Cabernet Sauvignons from South America has also risen in recent years, as has the quantity available.

According to the ICHD-II, all of them suffered from migraines.

It was necessary for French wines to come from the Medoc or Haut Medoc areas, which were mentioned on the bottle label.

During the trial, no additional alcohol source was permitted, and no more than 375 mL of alcohol was permitted.

Ingestion of French wine was shown to be more frequently associated with migraine attacks than consumption of South American wines (Table2).

Five people reported having a migraine episode after consuming the South American Cabernet, while none reported having one after consuming the French Cabernet.

Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most well-known red wine grape types in the world, and it is grown in many parts of the world.

In part, this grape’s worldwide recognition stems from its importance in Bordeaux wines, where it is frequently blended with Merlot and Cabernet Franc in proportions that vary depending on the region in which the wine is produced.

49,50 It is a tiny grape with thick skin, which results in an extremely high 1:12 ratio of seeds to fruit in the Cabernet Sauvignon grape variety.

This results in the high concentrations of phenols and tannins found in this wine, especially if the must is treated to extended durations of maceration (skin contact) prior to fermentation (as is the case with this wine).

The reduction of maceration time to as low as a few days may result in lighter and more accessible wines, as has been the case with several South American wine producers.

53,54 Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are used to make the wines of France’s Medoc and Haut-Medoc regions (on the left bank of the Gironde River), whereas on the right bank of the Gironde River, due to the arenous soil, Merlot grapes are used to make the typical wines of the region, such as those from the Pomerol district, which is the source of the legendary Chateau Petrus wine.

  1. According to popular belief, the name Merlot is a diminutive ofmerle, the French term for the blackbird, and is most likely a reference to the color of the grape’s skin.
  2. A combination of Merlot’s softness and “fleshiness,” as well as its early maturation, makes it a preferred grape for blending with the sterner, later ripening Cabernet Sauvignon vine, which has a greater concentration of tannins.
  3. Merlot is also one of the most widely planted red wine varietals in many parts of the world, including the United States.
  4. Merlot may produce delicate, silky wines with plum characteristics when grown as a varietal wine.
  5. Black and green olives, almonds, leather, mushrooms, and tobacco are among the vegetal and earthy aromas found in this blend.

It is possible to detect aromas of caramel, chocolate, coconut, coffee bean, smoke, vanilla, and walnut in Merlot that has been aged in wood for an extended period of time (more than 8 months). 46,47,53


Vinegars, particularly red wines, have a wide range of compositions and production procedures; as a result, they have a wide range of tastes and abilities to satisfy. The consumption patterns of various grapes and varietal wines vary greatly from country to country and from person to person. Wine has long been associated with headaches and migraine episodes as a classic trigger, whether for good or ill. Tannins and the phenolic flavonoid components of red wine, which have the potential to interact with the metabolism of certain monoamines as well as the ability to mobilize 5-HT, are most likely connected to one another.

We suspect that red wine does, in fact, cause migraines, at least for a subset of migraineurs who are not receiving regular preventative medication.

It is critical to conduct controlled research using well-known wines in order to clarify this widely held opinion.

Statement of Authorship

  • The following are the responsibilities of Bouch Krymchantowski and Carla Jevoux: (a) Conceptualization and Design
  • (b) Acquisition of Data
  • (c) Analysis and Interpretation of Data
  • And (d) Dissemination and dissemination of findings.

Category 2

  • Abouch Krymchantowski and Carla Jevoux worked together on the draft of the manuscript. Abouch Krymchantowski and Carla Jevoux worked together on the revision of the manuscript for intellectual content.

Category 3

  • Abouch Krymchantowski and Carla Jevoux worked together on the draft of the manuscript. Abouch Krymchantowski and Carla Jevoux worked together on the revision of the manuscript.

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