Sulfites are often blamed as the cause of red wine induced headaches.  They may cause allergic or asthma symptoms. But they are likely not the culprit of wine induced headaches. It would appear that there are two potential reasons for the red wine headaches are histamines and tyramine.  The postulated medical explanation is that the histamines dilate your blood vessels and bring on the flushing and inflammatory sensations. Tyramine is responsible for initially constricting and then dilating your blood vessels and also causes your blood pressure to rise slightly, often enough to induce a headache.

Histamines in wine: It is important to keep in mind the amount of Histamines present in red wine are much more prevalent than those which appear in white wine. That is the reason the condition is referred to as red wine headaches, or RWH. In fact, Histamines in red wine have been measured to be in some cases up to 200% higher in red wine, than what you commonly find in white wine.

While the amount of Histamines measured in wine varies, depending on the grape variety and region, so does the amount of Tryamine. For example, the levels of Tyramine present in Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are quite low, which is the reverse of what is found in Riesling. Bordeaux, fortunately for me, is also very low when it comes to Tyramine, as are most of the famous Bordeaux, red wine grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.

Histamines and Tyramine are by-products of the fermentation process. Of the two, Histamines seems to bear more of the responsibility for red wine headaches, or RWH. Yes, this is so common, RWH or red wine headaches is how medical professionals refer to the problem. Because Histamines are much stronger in red wine, than white wine or Champagne, the problem is most often referred to as red wine headaches. People who suffer from red wine headaches more often than others can have an enzyme deficiency that does not allow them to metabolize Histamines as well as they would like.

To prevent or cure the red wine headache, drink at least one full, 8 ounce glass of water per glass of wine. Water is your best friend as drinking alcohol can cause dehydration. You can also try taking non drowsy, anti-histamines before drinking wine. Other potential aids for headaches are easily found in your medicine cabinet. Before drinking, try taking an Aspirin, Ibuprofen or Vitamin B6.


Read more: Red Wine Headaches, The Cause, Solution, Prevention and Cure for RWH