What Causes A Wine Hangover?

Wine Hangover – What Causes Them and How to Avoid Them

Maybe you’re reading this from a google search because you’ve got a ripping morning headache after a night of drinking some wine and looking for a cure. Honestly, nothing can cure a hangover aside of time or maybe a “hair of the dog.” There are things that can make you feel better, but not your whole self.

Ok, so this isn’t going to be an article backed with scientific research, but an article from an industry professional who has spent an entire career in wine, and who also happens to be a health nut.

The beliefs

Many believe that sulfites and red wine is what causes their hangovers, I’m here to say that’s not true. While there are wineries that do add extra sulfur to their wines during production, it’s not what causes your head to pound. Dried fruits actually contain way more sulfites than wine. Red wines do have tannins and others blame that for their bothersome morning after-feel. Simply #fakenews.

I’m allergic to sulfur and many people are as well. I used to think I was allergic to wine (and the histamines) because in college a few friends would get that jug of Carlo Rossi and I’d have a few glasses and notice my face would get red. In the morning I’d feel like my head was in a vice grip. I wasn’t allergic to wine, rather the cheap California wines were to blame.

So what exactly causes a wine hangover?

Overconsumption aside, the #1 culprit to a wine hangover is sugar. Generally speaking, the higher the alcohol percentage, the more sugar in the wine. How? Sugar is what converts to alcohol in the winemaking process. While I will say there are certain regions in the world that are warmer, so alcohol percentages are going to be naturally higher, but there are wineries that push the limits by adding sugar during the winemaking process. A process is known as chaptalization. The result they are looking for? Wines to appeal to the American palate because many Americans have diets filled with sugar.

The #2 culprit to a wine hangover is other additives, AKA chemicals. Mass-produced wineries are typically at blame for adding chemicals, and even farming with chemicals. An example of a chemical additive to a wine? Oak essence. Yes, some wineries will cut corners and use this chemical instead of aging the wine in actual oak. If you try eating healthy and buy organic, wouldn’t you want the same with your wine? You may ask yourself, “well how do I know what is mass-produced?” Generally speaking, if you are buying wine in a chain grocery store, convenience store, or gas station, those are mass-produced. I can’t stress this enough, buy your wines from an independent retailer, local grocer, specialized wine club, or myself! Seek out imports, inquire about domestic producers, and look at the alcohol % on the label. Stick to 13.5% ABV and below.

Are there better wines to drink?

I love pretty much all varietals and generally have 1-2 glasses/day and perhaps more on the weekends (ha!). I never get a hangover, but I also don’t drink to get drunk. I can actually drink an entire bottle myself and not feel like I need a bottle of aspirin in the morning. I drink primarily imports, wines that are 12.5 – 13.5%. Wines that are produced by families with integrity, are organic or as close to that as possible, and from a respected importer. The wine doesn’t have to say it’s organic on the label, a matter of fact many European producers don’t pay to be certified organic. Anytime I have two glasses of some monster Napa Chard or Cab at 15.5 + percent, I feel awful in the morning. I can’t do it!

On an ending note, maybe you saw this article that came out with a massive list of wineries that contain the poisonous arsenic. http://deadstate.org/heres-a-complete-list-of-the-wine-brands-that-have-been-poisoning-you-with-arsenic/  Wine is food. Treat it the same way as you would if you watch what you eat.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published