Most of us have been there. Bacchanalian evening begets pounding wine headache and morning mourning.
What caused the catastrophe? For most, answer is simple—too much wine, not enough water.
For some people, however, excess is not needed. Are you allergic to wine? Here are possible reasons and tests to discover if you can blame allergy instead of excess.
First, sulfites do not cause wine headaches. Sulfites can cause asthma symptoms, but not headaches. In any event, wine is not a major source of sulfites. A single dried apricot has more sulfites than an entire bottle of white wine—and white wine has more sulfites than red wine.
Suspect #1: Tannin. Tannins are essential to aging red wine and a great source of antioxidants. You can test to see if you are tannin tormented. Brew black tea, steep 10 minutes or more. Drink the tea and see if you get a headache. If you do, avoid tannic wines. If you don’t, move to next suspect.
Suspect #2: Sugar. Alcohol and sugar can create powerful headaches. In both cases, your body needs lots of water to process the substances. If you do not hydrate, your system pulls water from other parts of your body. Your brain is 75% water. Avoid sweeter wines, avoid cheap wines (not a bad policy on many levels), and drink water alongside your wine.
Suspect #3: Histamines. Histamines are chemicals released when we have an allergic reaction. They produce dry eyes, runny noses, and headaches. Foods such as dry aged meats and red wines can cause your body to respond with histamines. Avoid by taking a histamine blocker such as Claritin before drinking red wine.
If you are like most people, your wine headache was caused by too much wine and not enough water. If there are other causes, I hope the above helps.
• Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Gris 2014: Exceptional value, food-friendly, delicious, true to the grape. $16
• McPherson La Herencia 2013: Tasty tempranillo-led blend; pure Texas play from Lubbock. $16-17
• Franciscan Estate Napa Valley Chardonnay 2014: Nicely done, restrained oak, will please many palates. $14-18
Last round: I think my wine glass is broken. It is empty again.