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Sep 15, 2010 09:27 AM

What gives you a headace from drinking Wine?


Does anyone know the ingrident(s) that gives you a headace from wine?

  1. That really depends on a couple of things. For me, too much sugar in a cheap sparkling gives me a headache to such an extent I simply won't drink it. Also, for me, if a cabernet is too young there are histamines that I react to and a headache is one of the symptoms.

      1. Primarily it's the fusel alcohols formed by quick fermentation to keep cost down.

        Well, that and sheer quantity!

        1. It can also be from sulfites, which occur in small concentrations in all wines, but are added by some vintners...they can make for a crippling headache even if you've enjoyed in moderation!

          11 Replies
          1. re: sunshine842

            Sulfite headaches are an urban legend, a zombie myth that will not die.

            There's been a lot of discussion about this on the board, most informedly by maria lorraine. For example, see and check out the links it contains, in particular which includes the following passage:

            "Sulfites have been completely ruled out in medical studies out as causing wine headaches or the redness/flushing courtabella describes. Sulfites in wine cause a reaction only in those persons with existing asthma (5% of the population) of those with a rare disorder called sulfite oxidase deficiency (1% of the population). If sulfites were a problem when consuming wine, then eating dried fruit would cause an extreme reaction, as would lunchmeat, salami, etc. The litmus test is if you don't have a reaction to those foods, you don't have a sulfites sensitivity. Bear in mind that a glass of wine contains, IIRC, 40 mg of sulfites and the human body itself produces about 1000 mg/day."

            For more discussions, plug sulfites or headaches into the search engine.

            1. re: sunshine842

              While they are a natural by-product of fermentation, almost all vintners add more sulfites to help stabilize their wine. From what I've learned here (see posts on this by maria lorraine, like the one in Brad Ballinger's link above) sulfites do not generally cause a reaction in people unless they have a specific type of migraine condition, and then it's usually a rash or flushed skin and not a headache.

              1. re: Midlife

                Glad to know that my coworker's black tongue and crippling migraines were all nonexistent....

                1. re: sunshine842

                  Unnecessary sarcasm aside............................. I think you should read my post again. I didn't suggest that the symptoms weren't real. What I said was that I've read material that suggests the cause may not be the sulfites. Sheesh!!!!!

                  1. re: Midlife

                    when you've been a firsthand observer to it (my coworker AND my mother)...and have seen them go through a full repertoire of doctor and specialist visits (blood tests, MRIs, the whole gamut), only to have both of them come up with sulfites (different doctors) as the clinical cause, it tends to lend some veracity to the theory.

                    1. re: sunshine842

                      I'm not a doctor and didn't extend my thoughts as if I were. What I said was "From what I've learned here ............... sulfites do not generally cause a reaction in people unless they have a specific type of migraine condition, and then it's usually a rash or flushed skin and not a headache." That sentence doesn't preclude the symptoms or diagnosis of your coworker or mother, nor does it deny the truth of their conditions.

                      While I understand you have a personal relationship to the subject, you might consider understanding that the words "generally" and "usually" are intentional qualifiers in that sentence. They're inserted specifically to leave room for the possibility that some people DO react to the sulfites in wine but that it's "USUALLY with a rash or flushed skin". I have no way of knowing if either person in your life has the type of migraine situation referred to in what I'm referring to, but it sounds as if it might at least be possible.

                      I'm going to back off now and chalk this up to an emotional response. I've just spent too many years hearing people claim that the sulfites in wine cause headaches and then reading piece after piece of research contending that it's other tings beside the sulfites.

                      1. re: Midlife

                        I get migraines and a doctor once told me to avoid red wine and chocolate. wonder if there's a resveratrol connection? the lifesaving element-du-jour? she also mentioned blue cheese. it's probably a combination of things in certain fermented foods, a subtle interplay not easily communicated. whatever. pass the pinot noir.

                        1. re: bakersdelight

                          The tyramines in red wine and chocolate are the migraine trigger. Tyramines are one family of biogenic amines. Histamines, another headache trigger found in food and wine, are another type of biogenic amines. I've written about this elsewhere on Chowhound.

                          1. re: maria lorraine

                            huh. do histamines make allergies worse too? oh my, this is huge!! found a list:

                            1. re: bakersdelight

                              sorry if i;m repeating what you may already have written elsewhere, ml, but I just read that Beaujolais reds have fewer histamines because they are made with "little or no oak treatment":

                              1. re: bakersdelight

                                My sense is that the writer in your linked article is presenting a complex issue far too simplistically. Surely, increased histamine consumption can exacerbate allergies, but many other reactions that appear to be allergic reactions (but are not) can also occur. Many factors cause a reaction to drinking wine: tyramines, differences in lactobacillus strains found in Europe vs. the US, percentage of alcohol, your individual alcohol processing (dehydrogenase and acetaldehyde), wine rootstock, what you've consumed *with* the wine, and on and on. Yes, oak is a factor but in the grand scheme of things, I'd say it's a small one in terms of causing a reaction. But if you think it is, try some stainless-steel-only wines (sometimes marked INOX), or Italian wines made in neutral Slavonian barrels (botti). If your problem with wine is with histamines, taking half an antihistamine before drinking might help.

            2. I'm thinking it MUST be the sleep because I always feel good when I go to bed after drinking a couple glasses of excellent wine!