What is it about wine, especially red wine, that makes as much as a 1/3 of humanity unable to drink it without getting a headache? Drinking just one glass can trigger immediate discomfort, raise blood pressure, or morph into a days-long migraine. Hennie van Vuuren, director of the Wine Research Centre at the University of British Columbia, is pretty sure he’s figured out the problem. He himself suffers from red wine headaches.
Wines get fermented first with a wine yeast, and then some wines are treated with malolactic bacteria that turns malic acid to lactic acid, thus mellowing the taste. These bacteria have another effect, though – they convert some of the amino acids in the grape into biogenic amines – histamine and tyramine. “These are neurotoxins,” van Vuuren says, and are linked to most allergic reactions. He has no doubt they are responsible for the vast majority of wine intolerances. It’s all but impossible for susceptible consumers to choose wines that won’t give them a migraine.
Advice for Red Wine Headaches
The best advice for sufferers of red wine headaches is to keep a record of your reactions to different wines, & not buy or order ones that make you feel ill. Rieslings and Sauvignon Blancs seldom undergo malolactic fermentation and should be OK for most people, van Vuuren says, as should old wines whose bioamines have degraded.
If you are in a situation where there is no Home Vintner wine handy, some physicians suggest taking antihistamines, such as Claritin, or common painkillers such as Ibuprofen or Aspirin when you imbibe but check with your doctor. As van Vuuren says, “I don’t want to enjoy a glass of wine and then have to take a pill afterward!”
None of The Home Vintner wines contain malolactic enzymes and never will!
Reposted from 2012 Article.