Can Wine Give You A Headache

Can wine cause a headache? Being a wine lover and occasional drinker, I have frequently questioned this. There were moments when I’ve had a glass or two of wine and woke up the next day …

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Can wine cause a headache? Being a wine lover and occasional drinker, I have frequently questioned this. There were moments when I’ve had a glass or two of wine and woke up the next day with a throbbing headache. It made me ponder if the wine was the culprit.

After delving into research and speaking with experts in the field, I’ve discovered that wine can indeed be a culprit of headaches for some individuals. There are several factors at play that contribute to wine-induced headaches, and it’s important to understand them to enjoy wine without any unwanted side effects.

Sulfites: A Common Culprit

One of the most commonly blamed causes of wine headaches is sulfites. Sulfites are naturally occurring compounds that are also added to wines as a preservative. They help prevent oxidation and maintain the wine’s freshness. However, some people are sensitive or allergic to sulfites, which can lead to headaches.

It’s worth noting that sulfites are present in many foods and beverages, not just wine. Some individuals may experience a reaction specifically to the sulfites in wine, while others may have a general sensitivity to sulfites across various foods and drinks.

Red Wine: More Than Just Tannins

Another commonly pointed out culprit for wine headaches is red wine, specifically the tannins it contains. Tannins are natural compounds found in grape skins and stems that give red wine its distinct taste and structure. They also act as antioxidants.

Tannins can cause headaches in some people due to their astringent properties. They can also contribute to dehydration, which is another potential cause of wine-induced headaches. However, it’s important to note that not all red wines are created equal, and some may contain higher levels of tannins than others.

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Dehydration and Alcohol Content

Speaking of dehydration, alcohol itself is a diuretic, meaning it increases urine production and can lead to dehydration. When we consume alcohol, our bodies work harder to eliminate it, resulting in increased fluid loss. Dehydration can cause headaches, and when combined with the other factors mentioned, it can amplify the likelihood of getting a wine headache.

It’s crucial to stay hydrated while consuming wine or any alcoholic beverage. Drinking plenty of water before, during, and after indulging in wine can help mitigate the risk of dehydration and potential headaches.

Individual Sensitivities and Histamines

Aside from sulfites, tannins, and dehydration, individual sensitivities to certain compounds in wine can also contribute to headaches. Histamines, for example, are naturally occurring compounds that are found in wine and can trigger headaches in some people.

Furthermore, certain wine-making techniques, such as the use of oak barrels, can introduce compounds like tyramine, which is another potential headache trigger for some individuals.


While wine can indeed give you a headache, it’s important to remember that not everyone is affected in the same way. Some individuals may be more susceptible to wine-induced headaches due to their sensitivities or allergies to certain compounds found in wine.

To mitigate the risk of wine headaches, it’s helpful to pay attention to your body’s reactions and identify any patterns. Experimenting with different types of wine, such as low-sulfite options or wines made with alternative winemaking techniques, can also be beneficial.

Ultimately, enjoying wine is a personal experience, and finding the right balance and understanding your own body’s reactions is key. Cheers to a headache-free wine journey!

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John has been a hobbyist winemaker for several years, with a few friends who are winery owners. He writes mostly about winemaking topics for newer home vintners.
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