Wine Wine School

Why Does Wine Give You a Headache?!

You're not the only tortured soul in this world

Tale as old as time, tada dada dadaa…

I cannot count the number of people who:
a) hate red wine because it gives them headaches;
b) swear off red wine because it gives them headaches… and fail everytime.

But why is that? Why do some people get migraines or simply fall asleep? 
I happened to be discussing the topic with a friend the other day, when her first response was, “Sulfites, right?” Well, no.
Amendment: If you are one of the unfortunate 1% who has sulfite allergies, then yes.
Otherwise, then no.

Then why?!
Science says the most possible culprit is Histamines.
Histamines are the chemicals your body releases when you’re allergic to something: the red eyes, the runny nose… the headaches. Now how does this tie in with wine? Wine can cause our bodies to release histamine, which then leads to those allergy-like symptoms. Mind you, not all of us react the same way – so some might feel nothing, some may get headaches, and some might dose off!

So how do I fix that? Good question. Simple answer.
Try taking anti-histamine before going out to drink. Histamed is probably the most known pill – I mean, I live off of it through Autumn, Winter, and Spring. Thank God, I have every possible allergy and yet don’t suffer from wine headaches!

Could it be something else? Maybe.
Another culprit could be tannins, but that’s just a theory.
Tannins are naturally occurring compounds that exist inside grape skins, seeds, and stems. Tannins can inhibit serotonin production in our bodies; you might know it as one of the “happy hormones”, low serotonin levels can lead to headaches, but only in serotonin-sensitive people.

Am I serotonin-sensitive? Can I do anything about it?
Tannins are also found in black tea – so brew yourself a strong cup, and drink up. If you’re sensitive, you’ll feel a small headache coming up.
If you are, don’t worry! You won’t have to swear off wine. Tannins are heavier in red wines, so stick to rosé and white. And if you really love your red, just have a glass of the lighter bodied types, like Pinot Noir.

See you soon with another glass of red!

Hi, I'm Red. I'm fond of vintage wine, dark chocolate, and thick books. You can often find me at the local coffee shop writing magical stories, or out road-tripping to some far off village. I'm always happy to meet new people, so drop me a comment!

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