Lifestyle & Parenting

Red Wine Headaches: Myth or Monster?

April 19, 2017

The infamous RWH (red wine headache) garners a lot of skepticism in the wine world, especially from those who can drink wine without feeling the effects.


Eye rolls follow the old adage, “I can’t drink red wine, it gives me a headache,” and it is often assumed the speaker is confusing a hangover for a headache. But, if you are someone who gets RWHs, you likely can’t consume enough wine to even get a hangover. That insidious throbbing starts after only a few sips of wine, and believe you me, it is not a myth.

That said, there is a lot of controversy and misinformation over what causes RWHs. Spoiler alert: there is no straight answer, nor a cure. But let’s untangle a common misconception about SULFITES. Yes, it is true that some people are sensitive to sulfites. But if you can eat a piece of dried fruit (very high in sulfites) then the sulfites in your wine are not the cause of your RWH. And, despite popular belief, red wine contains less sulfites than white wine!

So what does cause the RWH? The theories are many, and every person is different. Wine does contain tyramines and histamines—compounds that are released in the body during allergic reactions. But so do a lot of other alcohols that don’t trigger the same painful pounding. Tannins are often blamed, since they are unique to red wine, but no studies have conclusively linked tannins to headaches.

The “possible” reasons go on for days, but the fact is every person is different, so pay attention to your body. Drink lots of water (with or without your wine). And despite having no answer, know this: RED WINE HEADACHES ARE NOT A MYTH! —Laura Starr


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