Red Wine Headaches Can Ruin an Evening, Avoid them Now!

Red wine headaches or RWH's come along and ruin a perfect evening. I get them. Headaches can make anyone care less about any health benefits of red wine.

Years ago I very rarely had headaches, and I never had a migraine, until... I got married. Yes it is true and my wife, Kathy, knows this.

We joke about it, but a RHW is nothing to joke about because the natural progression is to a migraine. And for all of you you migraine sufferers I feel your pain... literally.

There are many theories on what caused red wine headaches, and there has yet to be enough research to prove exactly the cause.

How can something so perfect hurt so much?

Plan ahead to make sure your night does not end 20 minutes after your first glass.

Headaches and migraines have been misunderstood for many years and are recently being researched for a deeper understanding. If someone has never had a migraine there is no way they can understand how crippling they can be.

This is why researchers are unable to pinpoint a true cause for the RHW. Pain is personal and headaches are not constant. They change, can be fleeting, or can migrate into something that you wouldn't wish on your enemy.

RWH are believed to develop from:

1. Tannins of red wine- Tannins create the mouth drying bitterness you would taste when drinking red wine. Tannins can also be developed from oak barrels. Harvard studies have shown tannins increase serotonin and high levels of serotonin can cause headaches. Why could tannins not be the reason? Chocolate, soy, and tea also have high levels and they tend to not cause headaches. New York University proves that bit of info.

2. Prostaglandin- What the heck is this? Simply put lipid compounds in fatty acids. Simple right? I guess some people are unable to break this down in their digestive system and it can create headaches.

3. Yeast or Bacteria- This is used during the fermentation process and could also cause headaches but guess what. Yeast is used in almost all fermentation processes.

4. Sulfites- Sulfites are found in all wines. More in red wines than white. You will also find amounts far greater in other fruits such as dried apricots. Dries apricots are said to have 8 to 10 times more sulfites than red wine.

The most noted reason for red wine headaches is the sulfites. You will see this everywhere and if you are allergic this could be the cause but there are very few people who are allergic to sulfites. I think this is a trendy thing to say and I believe it is far from the truth.

I believe the reason is closer to the yeast in the red wines. There can be a vast number of yeast strands used to assist in the fermentation process. This yeast cocktail can impact anyone as our bodies may have never been exposed to the type of yeast used, especially if there have been a number of them used. The winemaker may say they only used one type of yeast, but if they change it from year to year the yeast can collect on the vineyard and linger from generation to generation. Yeast is living and can easily created allergic reactions because of the lack of exposure the body has had.

The other thing to understand is that the yeast is not floating in the air for you to breath in and filtered through the nose hairs and filters in your lungs. When drinking wine yeast is ingested into your body and then the alcohol brings it right into your blood stream. This makes the impact substantial.

You will see a higher number of yeast mixes in larger producing wine companies. The use of natural yeast that forms on a maturing grape can produce excellent wine but can also create many opportunities for making mistakes with the wine.

Winemakers cannot afford to take this risk. They need to inoculate yeast into the fermentation process. This is extremely common and understood, but also allows for yeast strands not recognized by your body and could be the reason for your red wine headaches.

Could a red wine headache be caused by the theories above? Sure. RWH could be created by a combination of all four.

Well I have not let the red wine headache slow me down. I am proactive to make sure my evening is as smooth as the wines I will be enjoying.

A Way to Avoid RHW:

By taking Acetaminophen, Aspirin, or Ibuprofen about one hour before sipping your red wine this can be avoided.

I will take 2 Excedrin 1 hour before I go out or before we start pouring. This has never failed. I have never received the red wine headache when I have done this. I do have to say that if I have a headache prior to tasting I will not have any red wine until the headache is gone. I have found that even if I take medicine prior to enjoying a glass, when I currently have a headache, the headache will not leave. It will just linger, like the friend that will never leave.

I am not a scientist. I have not done studies.

I do know what works for me. Give it a try. It is better to try and solve the problem than to fear enjoying red wine.

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