Why Does Red Wine Give Me Diarrhea

Many of us find great joy in the simple pleasure of red wine, an enjoyable pastime for numerous people. The experience of relaxing with a glass of rich, flavorful red wine following a long day is unmatched. However, this enjoyment can be somewhat marred for certain people by an unfortunate adverse reaction – diarrhea. Speaking from personal experience, I too have faced this issue. In this article, we will delve into the possible reasons behind diarrhea caused by red wine and share some insights from personal experiences along the way.

The Myth of Sulfites

One common misconception is that sulfites are the culprit behind red wine-induced diarrhea. Sulfites are naturally occurring compounds found in many foods and beverages, including wine. While some individuals may be sensitive to sulfites and experience symptoms such as headaches or allergic reactions, diarrhea is not typically one of them. In fact, sulfites are present in higher amounts in white wine, yet it is red wine that seems to be more commonly associated with digestive issues.

Tannins and Their Impact

Tannins are a group of compounds found in red wine that contribute to its color, texture, and flavor. They are also known for their astringent properties, which can cause a drying or puckering sensation in the mouth. In some cases, tannins may irritate the lining of the digestive system, leading to loose stools or diarrhea. This can be more pronounced in individuals who already have sensitive stomachs or digestive conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Personally, I have noticed that certain red wines with higher tannin levels tend to trigger digestive discomfort for me. This could be due to the fact that tannins can bind with proteins in the gut, potentially affecting the normal functioning of the digestive system.

Alcohol and Its Effects

Alcohol, in general, can have a laxative effect on the body if consumed in excessive amounts. Red wine, like any alcoholic beverage, contains alcohol, which can speed up the movement of food through the digestive tract. This accelerated transit time can result in loose stools or diarrhea. It’s important to note that moderation is key when it comes to alcohol consumption, as excessive drinking can have a range of negative health effects.

Personal Sensitivities and Individual Differences

It’s essential to recognize that everyone’s digestive system is unique, and what affects one person may not have the same impact on another. Some individuals may have specific sensitivities or intolerances to components found in red wine, such as histamines or tyramines, which can potentially trigger digestive symptoms.

In my case, I have observed that drinking red wine on an empty stomach or consuming it alongside certain foods, such as spicy or greasy dishes, increases the likelihood of experiencing diarrhea. It’s worth paying attention to your own body’s reactions and identifying any patterns or triggers that may be contributing to your discomfort.


While red wine diarrhea is a real concern for some of us wine enthusiasts, the exact cause can vary from person to person. Tannins, alcohol, personal sensitivities, and individual differences all play a role in determining whether red wine will lead to digestive distress. If you find that red wine consistently causes diarrhea for you, it may be worth exploring other types of wine or discussing your symptoms with a healthcare professional.

Ultimately, it’s about finding a balance between enjoying the pleasures of red wine and maintaining our digestive well-being. Cheers to that!