Why does certain wine give me a headache? I get asked this question ALL thee time!
That’s one of the number one turnoffs that people have about drinking wine, especially when it comes to red. But, we can’t let that be the reason that keeps you from wine. There are so many assumptions out there, I wanted to explore the topic myself and get to the bottom of the question. Let’s see where the source of this pain really comes from!
- Sulfites – *insert buzzard sound* Many people seem to think that sulfites in wine cause headaches. That’s actually not the case. According to scientists and physicians, sulfites can cause allergy and asthma symptoms, but they don’t cause headaches. Sulfites are added to wine as a preservative to reduce spoilage, improve product consistency, extend shelf life, prevent rapid oxidation and ensure that the original flavors are maintained. Wine has no shelf life without sulfites.
- Sugar – Alcohol and sugar are two substances that when combined can create a powerful headache. When your body consumes alcohol or sugar, you need lots of water in order to help process the substances. If you are not well hydrated, your body starts to pull the necessary water it needs from other parts of your body, including the head. As the liquid in your head starts to deplete, a headache forms. This is often the case with sweet dessert wines and white wines such as Riesling that are labeled semi-dry or sweet. This is also true for cheaper wines, which tend to have more sugar due to the fact that mass producers add sugar during fermentation in order to boost the alcohol.
- Histamines – According to drinkpurewine.com, wine naturally contains histamines. Some more than others. Histamines are your body’s response to allergens, and they send a red flag to your body’s immune system and spark uncomfortable side effects. These chemicals can cause symptoms such as a runny nose, dry eyes, and headache. Recent research has found that food and drinks that have been aged such as dry ages meat and red wines, can cause our body to release histamines and create these allergy-type symptoms.
- Tyramine is a naturally occurring amino acid, often produced by fermentation. It can affect blood pressure and has been known to trigger migraine headaches in people who can’t break down the substance.
I’m so glad that we were able to get to the bottom of this! Sulfites are NOT the root of wine headaches and anyone who tells you differently is wrong! Hey, I used to think that was true too, but now I know better. So, now that we know what causes wine headaches, how do you cure them? Stay tuned, I have a fun invention that may do the trick!