Is there really a link between red wine and headaches? As I was researching the topic it was clear that no one knows for sure the main cause.
Theories on red wine and headaches:
At one time it was believed to be the sulfites in red wine that was the primary cause of the red wine headache however, sweet white wines actually contain more sulfites than red wines.
Tannins are also thought to possibly cause red wine headaches. Tannins come from the grapes skin, stems and seeds and is much more plentiful in red wine. Headaches may be more severe when drinking heavier tannic red wines such as Bordeaux from France and very dry Italian wines such as Barolo and Barbaresco. If this is the case, one should be able to drink wines lower in tannins that have not been aged as long such as Pinot Noir, Spanish Riojas and French wines from Burgundy and suffer with fewer headaches.
Some people even recommend taking Ibuprofin (Motrin), Tylenol or asprin one hour before drinking red wine to inhibit the release of prostaglandins in our body. Prostaglandins are substances we produce in our body that can cause pain and inflammation.
Finally, one needs to ask themselves if they just drank too much. This can cause alcohol dehydration which typically can cause severe headaches. Red wine alcohol can be very potent and its effects can be felt very quickly with some individuals.
Tips to Prevent Alcohol Dehydration:
1) Make sure you eat when you drink red wine.
2) If you are out for a long evening of drinking try to not drink more than one glass of red wine per hour.
3) Drink several glasses of water between each glass of red wine.