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You gathered, you feasted, you toasted, you cheered, and boy, do you have a headache!


Let’s talk holiday hangovers and explore some ways to limit the painful aftereffects of merry making. We’ll learn what causes those wine headaches. By the way, it’s not sulfites! In case you missed it, I talked about that here. We’ll also look at some preventative measures.

Why The Headache?

Tannins, sugar and histamines are the 3 main causes of “wine headaches.” Though sulfites take the blame, research has not shown a link. Here’s the scoop:


Tannins: Naturally occurring compounds that exist inside grape skins, seeds and stems. You experience the effect of tannins any time you drink a wine that creates a drying sensation in your mouth. Tannins are a great source of antioxidants, and for most of us they create no headache at all. To see if tannins are the source of your headache trouble, brew a cup of black tea and let it steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Black tea is strong in tannins and over-steeping the tea will ensure they are all released into the water. Drink the tea and if you get a headache, you are susceptible to tannins.


Sugar: Alcohol and sugar are two substances that when combined can create a powerful headache. When your body metabolizes 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.


Histamines: Chemicals that are released when we have an allergic reaction that can cause symptoms such as a runny nose, dry eyes and a headache. Recent research shows many foods and drinks that are aged, such as dry-aged meats, some cheeses and red wines, can cause our body to release histamines and create these allergy-type symptoms.

What To Do

  • If these 3 culprits are to blame for your headaches, you can:
    • Avoid red wine, or choose one with lower tannin content
    • Drink a glass of water for every glass of wine, always, but especially to help metabolize sugar
    • Take Claritin or other antihistamine before drinking wine
    • Try 2 cups of strong coffee, caffeine helps relieve headache caused by dilated blood vessels

Remember that responsible consumption is the key to enjoying life, and a good wine, with your friends and family!


We at Pour Vous wish you a great, and headache-free, 2017,

Ted – the old wine guy!


(Info I. Blake & Vinepair, Photo Debbie C. on Flickr)