What Causes Wine Headaches?

It’s happened to all of us to get some nasty headache, even after drinking some amazing wine.

It’s true that, when we have a proper fun night out, we don’t notice how much we may have drunk, but there are more reasons that can lead to a hangover the day after.

Let’s have a look together.


Myths Debunked

Some believe that post-wine headaches are caused by sulphites but this myth has been revealed by experts a while ago: only a very small portion of us have an allergy for sulphites, with allergy and asthma symptoms as an indication.

So what are the culprits then? For most of us, the cause of a wine headache is simply drinking too much wine and not enough water. Our body takes a lot of water to break down and digest alcohol so we actually get dehydrated when we drink wine, as odd as it sounds.

The simple solution here is to always drink tons of water while drinking wine.

Water in wine.jpg


Still Feeling Rough?

If you’ve been good and drank loads of water to keep yourself hydrated, there’re still three main causes for a wine headache:



These make up one of the six basic components of wine, the one that cause that drying sensation in your mouth after a nice sip of (mostly red) wine.

For most of us, tannins will have no effect but for some they could be the root cause of a bad headache.

Test yourself by drinking a very strong black tea (which is high in tannins as well) and see if that’s the cause for you.



When mixed with alcohol, the body requires a great deal of water to be able to process the combination of the two substances. Once again, the best recommendation is to keep hydrated.

In cheap wines, sugar is added to the grape juice to boost their alcohol content. This creates a less pure kind of alcohol that triggers headaches. That’s why cheap wines give nastier headaches.



Certain foods and drinks, such as aged wines, can cause our bodies to release a natural chemical compound called histamines. In low doses these help defending the body against infections, but too much histamines lead to inflammation in soft tissues, like the lungs, the nose and the skin. Even when so mild to be barely noticeable, such allergic reactions come together with a thumping headache. 



Red vs White Wine Headaches

Red wines tend to give more problems than white – so much so that some talk of red wine allergy. The reason is that both tannins and histamines are present in higher quantities in red wines so if you figured they are the reason for your headaches, drinking white wine might be your solution.

That said, a final word of caution. White wine (and sparkling wine for that matter) is a sneaky b*stard: even though it has less tannins and less histamines, on average we notice much less how much we drink of it. Usually, it’s served nice and chill, so it flows way easier than red. So we may end up with a bad headache anyway if we aren’t careful. 



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