Too often we hear that wine headaches – especially from red one – are caused by the presence of sulphites; however, as we explained in our previous article on natural wines and hangover, this is not the truth. Or rather, sulphites can harm the health of those who are intolerant, but what causes the headache is beyond the wine production method. However, if it is not sulphites then what is it? Some say tannins. Today we discover together if there is a connection between tannins and headaches.
The Red Wine Headaches phenomenon
It surely happened to you too: you are drinking a glass of good quality red wine, maybe a nice natural one, and you feel great. However, during the next hours you suddenly get a headache, and the day after you have all the symptoms of a hangover despite not drinking too much. How is it possible? After all, the wine you have chosen does not contain sulphites, so you should be safe from problems. Of course, this would be true if red wine headaches were linked only to sulphites.
On the contrary, according to science, the RWH phenomenon (aka Red Wine Headaches) would be linked to other elements contained in wine.
What causes red wine headaches
According to research, in particular, the one by Dr. Damon Fellman, director of Hackensack University Medical Center, the cause of red wine headaches is to be found in biogenic amines, substances that are created in the vinification phase by lactic bacteria present in must and wine. Among these, the one that creates the greatest risk is called histamine, which can cause headache and nausea, but also rashes, vomiting and respiratory crisis in those who are particularly sensitive.
The presence of these elements in wine depends on the type, and the sickness can be exacerbated by the consumption of foods that contain them, such as fruit juices, tomatoes, spinach and fermented foods and drinks.
What about tannins?
So what about the fact that tannins cause the Red Wine Headaches phenomenon? This is a rumour without scientific foundation: tannins are undoubtedly connected with the hangover due to high consumption of wine, but it seems to have nothing to do with the phenomenon of RWH.