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BLOG #3: Why do I get a headache when drinking wine?


Probably the one thing that everyone of a certain age has spoken about at some point or other, the morning after a heavy session....ouch I have got such a 'wine headache'. Wine typically takes the brunt of a lot of the reasons for a headache the morning after drinking a lot of alcohol but is it fair?


For some people it can only be 1 or 2 sips of a red wine to set off that migraine and for others, they do not see a headache at all. The truth is one thing that is more of a myth than not is that many suggest high sulphites in wine are the root cause.....nope. The reality is that sulphites are more likely to give those who suffer from asthma breathing issues rather than headaches. Don't forget high sulphites can also be found in the likes of chips, pickles, raisins, soy sauce even certain fruits and dried fruits too!


So why do I get headaches from drinking wine?

Research is still being done to work out if there is a scientific rationale that can aid us, but one thing is for sure, if we look at what else is inside the glass, it can aid our learning. Histamine for example is in grape skins - note that white wine is typically made without the skins vs red wine which is made from the whole grape. Histamine sensitivity could bring on a headache. Again though, this is also true of the likes of fish, sausage, aged cheese, spinach etc.


Tannins - ah yes...that thing that everyone talks about in grape skins which gives wine its flavour. When drinking red wine, tannins can be heavy, you will hear people describe wine as a 'big mouth feel' if they feel a wine is very tannic. Tannins release serotonin in your body when consumed which again can cause headaches for some people.


There are also much simpler reasons too....you are dehydrated. If you are not drinking enough wine, despite the fact wine is made up of mostly water, then you will get a headache - much like you would if you do not drink during the day. Drinking alcohol is a diuretic so we need to consume water to ensure we are not dehydrated. It is also a very good reason why when drinking wine, you have some water on the table too to keep topped up!


And lastly, when drinking wine or actually any alcohol, it triggers endorphins in your body. The more you drink, the more your body releases these to a point at which you are running high on endorphins...as you come down from these high levels, your body reacts via a headache.


So how do we stop headaches?

There is no tried and tested way to answer this and it depends on an individual basis, but a few things that you should consider. Make sure that you are drinking water when drinking alcohol, to ensure you do not become too dehydrated. Secondly, compare wines, some wines will affect individuals more than others. I would argue that very cheap bottles of wine, will likely have a lot more unknowns in its composition which will affect us more than those that are more reputable - so compare the reactions you have with different styles and bottles of wine. Thirdly, if you are susceptible to tannins or histamines then recognise that and likely reduce your intake of wine as a result.


Thank you for reading this edition, more to come - as always do follow The Devon Wine Guy on instagram, facebook and the website to see more blogs. All questions always welcome.


Until next time, The Devon Wine Guy.


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