In the Red: Decoding Red Wine Headaches

For a significant portion of wine enthusiasts, wine-induced migraines and headaches often trace back to red wine consumption. Fortunately, advancements like Wine Balance, a revolutionary filtration system, offer hope by mitigating the presence of headache-inducing compounds, thus diminishing the aftermath of indulgence.

Red wines, renowned for their robust flavors, also harbor higher concentrations of histamines and tannins, notorious instigators of wine headaches. Yet, amidst the discomfort, understanding the distinct varieties of headaches becomes paramount. By discerning these nuances, individuals can uncover the underlying triggers behind their discomfort.

Types of Headaches

A commonly identified headache syndrome associated with red wine consumption is referred to as the "red wine headache," as documented by Kaufman in 1986. This syndrome typically manifests shortly after consuming red wine, often exhibiting a dose-dependent relationship. Initial symptoms may arise within minutes, followed by an initial peak around the two-hour mark. While the headache may temporarily subside, it tends to resurge approximately eight hours later with heightened intensity.

Another distinct headache associated with wine consumption is commonly known as the "red head” (Goldberg, 1981). This headache typically emerges within an hour of waking up after consuming no more than two glasses of red wine the previous evening. Characterized by accompanying nausea, this headache tends to intensify when reclining. While its duration spans a few hours, the specific chemical triggers behind this wine-related headache remain unidentified.

The Culprits

As noted by Jackson in 2014, headaches attributed to wine consumption are often believed to be triggered by tannins in the majority of cases. Given that red varietals contain elevated levels of tannins, it follows logically that a larger segment of the population experiences headaches after consuming them. Tannins, plant compounds responsible for enhancing the flavor profile of wines, are also implicated in triggering the release of certain neurotransmitters associated with pain. This effect is akin to the release of tannins when black tea is steeped excessively, potentially leading to headaches in sensitive individuals. To gauge sensitivity, one might consider avoiding wines renowned for their high tannin content, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, and monitor if the issue persists.

SEE ALSO: How do you remove tannins from wine?

Due to the inclusion of grape skins during the winemaking process, red wines inherently possess higher levels of histamine. Histamine, a biogenic amine formed during grape fermentation, is known to induce various symptoms, including headaches, migraines, dry eyes, nasal congestion, sneezing, and gastrointestinal discomfort.

Several solutions have emerged to address this concern, ranging from wine wands to various filtration systems, sachets, and purifiers. Among these innovations, Wine Balanced stands out as a 100% organic and natural product designed to effectively eliminate or significantly reduce levels of tannins, histamine, and sulfites from wine.


Goldberg, D. (1981). Red head. Lancet 8227, 1003. Retrieved on April 29, 2024, from The Lancet.

Jackson, Ronald S. (2014). Wine Science: Principles and Applications. Elsevier. Page 909. ISBN 9780123814692.

Kaufman H.S. The red wine headache: A pilot study of a specific syndrome. Immunol. Allergy Prac. 1986;8:279–284.

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