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Monday, February 15, 2016

Red Wine Headaches?

There are people that say red wine gives them headaches. White wine is apparently okay. What's the difference between the two that could lead to this reaction?

It can be difficult to figure out exactly what may be causing the problem as no two people react the same.


Many believe it's an allergic reaction to sulfur probably because of the sulfur warning on wine labels, but there is a lot more sulfur in many other foods. White wine usually contains more sulfur than red so this probably isn't the problem.


This is an organic compound that can cause allergic reactions. Red wines do contain more histamines than white and some whites contain more histamines than others. White wines such as Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris should have the least amount of histamines. These compounds are found in the grape skins. Red wine is fermented with the skins and white is not. Also, a process called malolactic fermentation creates more histamines. This is done to reds and most Chardonnays.

You can try taking a non-drowsy formula anti-histamine before having a glass of red and see what happens.


Tannin is that mouth-drying element in many young reds that comes from the skins and seeds. This is the same compound found in black tea. Lighter reds like Grenache or Pinot Noir will not have the tannins of heavier reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged reds will have less tannin.

Cheap Wine

Those cheap-ass wines you may be drinking are industrial products containing numerous chemicals. If this is what gives you headaches try moving up to better wines and see what happens.


People try a variety of things to prevent negative reactions to wine. The one that can easily be recommended is drinking lots of water between glasses of wine as dehydration may be the problem. Some take aspirin or Ibuprofen before drinking. Of course, if you drink five or six glasses then have a reaction that's called a hangover.