Wine About It: What Is Responsible For Your Wine Headaches And 4 Ways You Can Avoid Them In The Future

Jun 06, 2018 by apost team

We are mostly all familiar with the feeling the morning following a night of excessive alcohol consumption. It is the ever-present hangover that hits us the minute we open our eyes. This physical reaction can be caused by any number of reactions that the body has to alcohol including lack of water and inflamed blood vessels. 

But a wine headache can be very different and why it occurs. Wine, with its multitude of sulfites and the fermentation process that creates them, leads to the ultimate wine headache. The white versions usually contain more sulfites than red wine products.

A red wine is produced with grapes whose skin contains tannins. This is a preservative found in nature. In actuality, most fruit, fries, and processed meat have more sulfites in each serving than a glass of wine. Adding sulphur dioxide shuts down the native yeasts that can cause wine to have a less than palatable taste. 

Many people blame the addition of sulfites to the process as the reason for wine headaches, but this is actually not the case. The cause for wine headaches probably lies with allergic reactions to these natural byproducts in grapes: 

1. Histamine 

A red wine can average about 2 teaspoons of histamines per-bottle and far more white wine, champagne, or any sparkling wines on the market which have about half the amount. Most individuals who are susceptible to wine headaches have a low level of enzymes in their system that contributes to metabolizing histamines in the body. Taking an antihistamine before partaking in a glass or two of wine can alleviate a wine headache issue. 

2. Tyramine 

This is an amino acid that is found in foods like cured meats and cheeses, including wine. Because a common food that accompanies wine is eating appetizers such as cheeses and bite-size meat morsels, the overabundance of tyramine in all of these will lead to a wine headache occurring. 

Studies have also shown that people who suffer from chronic migraines have less monoamine oxidase (MAO) in their system which is the main enzyme needed to metabolize tyramine. There is not a medication that can help with this, so it is best to avoid combining foods and wine with this byproduct in them. 

3. Prostaglandins 

This is a lipid-compound that acts like a hormone in the body’s tissue which is also found in red wine. Many people experience a marked change in their level of prostaglandins when they consume red wine which leads to experiencing a wine headache.

Ibuprofen or aspirin in recommended doses usually will help with deterring or alleviating the headaches because they act as an inhibitor to this naturally occurring byproduct of red wine. You can also eat foods that are rich in fatty acids or vitamin E like fish and avocados before consuming red wine that will help reduce the risk of a wine headache. 

4. Tannins 

Tannins are like a natural yeast in wine that gives it its dry taste. The more skin, seeds, and stems that are emulsified in the wine during the process of making wine, the more tannins are present in the product.

Red wine is actually made with the grape skins, so it has a much higher content of this flavonoid. The result is that many wine consumers experience vasorelaxation, which is a result of the effects of tannins opening up the blood vessels and causing headaches. 

Many doctors insist that this is only a theory about tannins because the same amount of tannins has been detected in other products such as chocolate, soy, and tea without an overabundance of complaints about headaches. Combating this issue usually means sampling various red wines in small quantities before consuming it in glass-size amounts to see which one, if any, prompt a headache to occur. 

Many of us share this common problem associated with drinking wine and have our own ways to help with avoiding suffering from headaches. Show this to your friends so the morning after your next wine date will be a piece of cake!

Our content is created to the best of our knowledge, yet it is of general nature and cannot in any way substitute an individual consultation with your doctor. Your health is important to us!