......think most of us have had one these, especially when younger and starting out on our wine journey. For most of us the problem is not the wine, but drinking too much wine and not enough water. Drinking wine causes dehydration - this is what causes those horrible headaches at the end of a long night of drinking. But drink a glass of water to every glass of wine and you should be fine! Just be conscious of how much you are drinking and hydrate yourself accordingly.
Unfortunately for some, you don't have to drink a lot to get the headache. So what causes these kinds of headaches and how can we avoid them?
There are three main culprits and solutions, but before we explain them, we want to clear up one myth – sulphites do not cause headaches. While sulphites can cause asthma symptoms, they do not cause headaches.
On to the three major headache-inducing culprits:
Tannins : Tannins are naturally found in the grape skins, seeds and stems. For most of us tannins create no headache at all, in fact tannins are a great antioxidant source. But if you think red wine and particularly the tannins found in red wine, are your headache cause try this quick test. Brew a cup of strong black tea, allow it to steep for five or ten minutes. Black tea is strong in tannins. Drink the tea. If you get a headache - you're susceptible to tannins. Another quick test - dried mangoes or apricots have 4-10 times higher sulphites than wine, if you are sensitive to sulphites try eating these dried fruits as a check. If headaches do occur after the dried fruit or tea test then you probably are sensitive. Avoiding red wine will sort the problem of wine headaches. Remember chocolate, tea and soy are all high in tannins.
Sugar : Alcohol and sugar are two substances that when combined can create a rotten headache. When your body consumes alcohol or sugar, you need lots of water in order to help process the substances. If you are not well hydrated, your body starts to pull the necessary water it needs from other parts or your body, including your head. As the liquid in your head starts to deplete, a headache forms. To prevent this problem, avoid sweet dessert wines and white wines such as Riesling that are labelled semi-dry or sweet (if you enjoy Riesling but don’t want the sugar headache, make sure the wine is labelled as dry). Also to be avoided are cheaper wines, which tend to have more sugar due to the fact that mass producers add sugar during fermentation in order to boost the alcohol.
Histamines : Histamines are chemicals that are released when we have an allergic reaction and can cause symptoms such as a runny nose, dry eyes and a headache. Recent research has found that food and drinks that have been aged, such as dry aged meats and red wines, can cause our body to release histamines and create these allergy-type symptoms. To prevent a histamine headache, simply take a histamine blocker such as Claritin prior to having a glass of red wine.
A quick repeat - for most of us simply drinking too much wine causes the headache and not enough water. Drink more water or stop before drinking too much wine. Don't eat sugary things with wine.