HOME > Chowhound > Wine >
Are you making a specialty food? Tell us about it

wine/whine headaches?

TUSCANY Apr 13, 2006 01:52 PM

I am tired of getting headaches from wine. Not just drinking reds or whites, except in Italy where preservatives are not in the wine, I don't know what to do except not drink it. I mean, these headaches are very troublesome and hurt.

What can be done if anything? Is there a better wine to drink that isn't as full of sulphites?

  1. c
    Candy Apr 13, 2006 02:06 PM

    I used to get red wine headaches. A realtive who is a wine grower said it was the histamines and to take an antihistamine before imbibing. It seems to be someting i outgrew. It is not a problem anymore.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Candy
      Morgan Apr 13, 2006 04:48 PM

      This is often the real cause, not the sulfites. I would try and antihistimine first, preferably one that won't knock you out. I think Claritin is a good one. Just don't give up on the wine!

    2. l
      Linda W. Apr 13, 2006 02:13 PM

      A friend gave me this as a joke a few Christmases ago. I haven't yet tried it, so I don't know if it really works. Homeopathic ingredients, according to the website.

      Link: http://www.winechaser.com/default.asp

      1. j
        JC_JOE Apr 13, 2006 02:39 PM

        Try finding an organic wine,one which clearly states
        on the label "no added sulfites".This may(or may not)

        4 Replies
        1. re: JC_JOE
          Monty Apr 13, 2006 04:15 PM

          Very difficult to find and then you really don't know what you are getting. The sulfites are there for preservation. Wines without them can last days, weeks, maybe months. Few wine shops carry "pure organic" wines. Many wines are made from organically grown grapes (Robt. Sinskey for instance) but they are not organic wines.

          1. re: Monty
            christy Apr 14, 2006 12:50 PM

            Plus, sulfites occur naturally in grapes-if you truly have a sulfite allergy, this won't help.

          2. re: JC_JOE
            TUSCANY Apr 14, 2006 12:32 PM

            and where would I find such an animal? I have tried TJ's and they have only wine with sulphites. I've asked. So, if there is a source, could you post it please.

            1. re: TUSCANY
              Midlife Sep 20, 2012 10:44 AM

              Oops. posted and then realized this topic is SIX years old.

          3. b
            Babette Apr 13, 2006 08:13 PM

            Have you tried drinking lots of water accompanying the wine and afterward? Dehydration could be exacerbating the problem.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Babette
              Bill Hunt Sep 18, 2012 06:41 PM

              Oops, this is what I get for responding to the OP, before I read all replies.

              Is there an echo in the room????

              You beat me to the punch.


            2. j
              Jef Apr 13, 2006 08:31 PM

              Italian wine contains sulfites. Burning sulpher in wine barrels was a
              Roman invention, and they've been doing it ever since.

              You can test your reaction to sulphur dioxide by eating a bunch of
              sulphured dried apricots. If they don't knock you over, it's not
              the sulphites.

              I used to get them too. And when I looked into it a long time ago
              it wasn't known what the component in wine was that caused the
              problem. It was reds for me, mostly (which apparently contain
              less SO2,) so I stuck to whites with an aspirin. Are they too painful
              to experiment and see if some types/grapes are more tolerable?

              1. m
                Milife Apr 13, 2006 09:53 PM

                Lots of people feel that drinking wine causes headaches, and the culprit is usually thought to be sulfites. The link below is to an article that originates at UC Davis (often considered the heart of US wine academia). It pretty much debunks most of the common thought on this subject. Bottom line, for the author, seems to be that there IS something in wine that causes headaches, but it's NOT sulfites.

                Just some opposing food for thought.

                Link: http://waterhouse.ucdavis.edu/winecom...

                2 Replies
                1. re: Milife
                  Melanie Wong Apr 13, 2006 10:16 PM

                  Thanks for adding the link to Andy Waterhouse's article. As he alludes to, sulfite labeling is now mandatory in the European Union, as of November 2005.

                  Here's an article that quotes some Italian winemakers on this change.

                  Link: http://www.winecountry.it/articles/la...

                  1. re: Milife
                    christy Apr 14, 2006 01:42 AM

                    Linked below is a very good discussion on wine headaches. I too once in a while, completely unpredictably, get a headache and stuffy nose from wine, but I haven't so far noticed a pattern (most of the time, it doesn't happen). I've heard of people making a note of which wines don't sit well with them, and they just avoid those in the future-I probably need to do that.

                    It's astounding how many people believe in the sulfite theory! A sulfite allergy is a rare life-threatening condition, not something that gives you a headache, and sulfites occur naturally in higher concentrations in white wines, though everyone seems to think reds are to blame.

                    Link: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?s...

                  2. c
                    Christine Apr 13, 2006 11:50 PM

                    I think you're getting some good advice here as far as a "scientific method" (trying dried apricots for the sulfite reaction).

                    I have, very rarely, gotten adverse reactions to red wine: head congestion, scratchy throat, basically cold symptoms. Antihistamines clear it up. If you're getting straight headaches without the congestion, it may be some other allergy. Maybe you can get tested by an allergist.

                    Good luck.

                    1. a
                      Attaturk Apr 14, 2006 02:25 AM

                      Wine makes me stagger and slur my words.
                      It makes my bed go in circles.
                      Then it hits me on the head.

                      1. r
                        rl Apr 14, 2006 10:05 AM

                        I'm going to offer up another theory - and its just that since I'n no wine afficianado, but do know a wee bit about fermentation.

                        Red wines are usually fermented at pretty high temperatures in order to extract tannins and color from the grape skins and this causes fusel alcohols to be produced. Fusel alcohols are known headache producers - and it doesn't take long for you to feel it. White wine is usually fermented a little cooler than red wines, so there is probably less fusel alcohols in them.

                        1. t
                          TUSCANY Apr 14, 2006 12:42 PM

                          For some reason, I felt confident in posting this question here on this board. I knew that knowledge would flow and it has. I thank you all so much for helping me out.

                          Addressing the apricots. There is not a reaction when I eat them. Period. No problem there at all.

                          About the Homeopathic remedy, good idea, I'll be looking for that in those type drug stores.

                          Aspirin, no, don't usually take them around wine drinking nor do I drink fathoms of water which maybe I should try doing one water, one wine, one more water, etc.

                          Goodness knows I have plenty of antihistamines as I get clogged up in the head often times from seasonal allergys or slight asthma. I will try taking that. I always thought that wine or champagne contained histamines so taking anti would help I suppose.

                          Again, I appreciate the responses.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: TUSCANY
                            coll Apr 14, 2006 01:44 PM

                            My mother is very sensitive to sulfites, but champagne doesn't bother her. I understand it's absorbed differently than wine(through the mouth?) due to the bubbles, and the bad stuff doesn't make it to the stomach. She used to do great with Bully Hill from upstate NY too, but I don't think he's around anymore.

                            1. re: coll
                              yeepat Sep 18, 2012 02:33 PM

                              Bully Hill is alive and thriving. Still touting there low sulfur levels. That entitles them to not list on the bottle "Contains SULFITES". They do however list it has sulfur dioxide, a naturally occurring compound in wine making.

                          2. Bill Hunt Sep 18, 2012 06:38 PM

                            Many "wine headaches" are due to dehydration, and tannins can contribute to that.

                            Try drinking a glass of water, per each glass of wine, and see if that helps.


                            Show Hidden Posts