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Why Does Red Wine Give Me a Headache?

Why Does Red Wine Give Me a Headache?

Nothing compares to drinking a glass of red wine while you are at a family gathering, work social, or having a night out with friends until you get a headache after partaking in libations. Red wine headaches are the worst, so it’s no wonder why you started asking why red wine causes headaches.

Why Does Red Wine Give Me a Headache?

There is a large debate about what causes red wine headaches. Some people believe it is because of naturally occurring or added sulfites that are in wine. However, experts believe sulfites trigger asthma or allergic reactions, not wine headaches. However, a few culprits can cause wine headaches, including histamines, tannins, and sugar.


Most people believe that histamine is responsible for wine headaches. Histamine can dilate blood vessels. 

However, tyramine can also contract and dilate blood vessels. Either way, both compounds naturally occur in wine, but red wine contains higher levels of histamine than Champagne, sparkling wine, or white wines.

Unfortunately, some individuals do not have the enzyme capacity to metabolize histamine. Therefore, they are predisposed to wine headaches. Other individuals may see a spike in blood pressure caused by tyramine. However, tyramine can also be found in smoked fish, cured meats, and aged cheese and can cause a headache.


Tannins are compounds naturally found in wine. They can be found in concentrated levels in grape skins, pips (seeds), and stems.

When you drink wine, you will feel the effects of tannins. It’s that dry feeling in your mouth.

For most of the population, tannins will not cause a headache. Moreover, they can be an excellent source of red wine.

However, if you’ve drank red wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon regularly and notice you get headaches after consuming it, it may be the tannins. To confirm this theory, brew a cup of black tea, and let it steep for 5-10 minutes longer than recommended by the manufacturer.

Black tea contains high tannin levels. Additionally, do not add any cream or sugar.

Drink the tea. If you get a headache, you are prone to getting headaches from tannins. Therefore, it may be best to stop drinking red wine.


Alcohol and sugar make for an intense headache. Therefore, when you drink high levels of sugar or alcohol, you need to drink large amounts of water to help your body break down these compounds. 

If you do not stay hydrated, the body will take moisture from other body parts, such as the head. As the moisture in the head decreases, a headache can occur.

This is why you should avoid sweet wines or semi-dry wines. It’s best to go for dry wines.

How Do You Get Rid of a Red Wine Headache?

No one enjoys having a red wine headache. Luckily, there are multiple tricks you can use to get rid of a red wine headache.

For example, you can take a few painkillers to ease the headache. You can also drink 2-3 cups of coffee or drink lots of water and get some sleep.

How Do You Avoid a Headache When Drinking Wine?

Drink a whole glass of water before you drink the red wine. If you want a second glass of red wine, wait for a minimum of 1 hour and drink a second glass of water before you have a second glass of wine.

In addition to this, sip the wine slowly. Do not gulp it down. 

Furthermore, do not mix your drinks. If you are drinking red wine, only drink red wine.

Do not eat sugary foods with red wine. Remember, sugar and alcohol can cause intense headaches. You can also take two pain killers, such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen.

However, proceed with extreme caution and consume pain killers at your own risk. Most physicians do not recommend mixing medicine and alcohol.

Nevertheless, it is a good way to make yourself drink a glass of water before drinking wine.

Which Red Wine Is Less Likely To Cause a Headache?

If you get headaches from red wines, often it’s best to select a red wine that has low tannin and histamine levels. For example, dry wines Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, and Merlot have lower levels of tannins and histamines, so they are less likely to cause headaches.

Final Thoughts

The next time you drink a glass of red wine, you do not have to worry about a headache as you know how to prevent and soothe red wine headaches. Happy drinking!

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Tuesday 30th of August 2022