Red wine headache

Red Wine Headache

Red wine headache

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Red wine headache ("RWH") is a headache often accompanied by nausea and flushing that occurs in many people after drinking even a single glass of red wine. This syndrome can sometimes develop within 15 minutes of consumption of the wine.

The condition does not occur after consumption of white wine or other alcoholic beverages. Some individuals report that they get a migraine headache hours later from drinking some red wines. No one knows for certain why this syndrome occurs. It probably has more than one cause.


Since wines contain a warning label about sulfites many people have assumed that sulfites are the cause of RWH. This is not the case. K. MacNeil The Wine Bible pg 34 Workman Publishing 2001 ISBN 1-56305-434-5 Almost all wine contains sulfites. Many sweet white wines have more sulfites than red wines. Dried fruit and processed food like lunchmeat have far more sulfites than red wine. Less than 1% of the population is sensitive to sulfites.


RWH is probably not caused by histamines except in rare cases. Red wine has 20–200% more histamines than white, and those who are allergic to them are deficient in a certain enzyme. Some experts believe that the combination of alcohol and that deficiency could cause headaches. However, a study of 16 people with an intolerance to red wine, reported in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (Feb 2001), found no difference in...
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