Lesson 13 – Why do people sometimes get a hangover wine?

If you think indulgence in a binge is the only way to make you wake up the next morning with a giant headache, think again.

For sure excessive alcohol will do it to you every single time but if you are wondering why sometimes you get a headache that doesn’t feel exactly like a hangover even though you didn’t really have that much to drink the night before, it’s time for you to know a few more things about wines.

Tannins, the stuff that contains phenolic flavenoids providing the anti-oxidant benefits to make you live healthily forever and ever, is the same stuff that can cause you to suffer from migraines.  Red wines would taste flabby without tannins.  Unlike a hangover, this one doesn’t go away.  Instead it accumulates over time as you consume more and more tannins making you even more susceptible to tannin-driven headaches.   To reduce tannin accumulation, drink older wines.  Tannins in wines “resolve” themselves with age inside a bottle, forming sediments that drop to the bottom.  You can separate the sediments from the juice by decanting or simply avoiding them when pouring into a glass.  Most red wines start to throw sediments from 5 years old and continue to do for a few more years.  Sticking to wines above 8-10 years old and you need worry no more.

Another culprit is the histamines which dilate blood vessels in the brain.  Antihistamine drugs won’t do much to protect you but choosing the right kind of wines to drink does.  Red wines usually have a higher histamine level than whites. The ones that have the highest levels are the red wines with low acidity.  Acidity in wine is mainly a result of cold weather.  Heat produces sugar while cold produces acidity.   Wines from warmer regions like a lot of new-world wines for example tend to be full-bodied, high in alcohol (from high sugar levels), plenty of ripe flavors but often low in acidity.  The combination of high alcohol and low acidity can mean trouble to the more sensitive populace.

So what are some of the wines with more acidity?  White wine.  But for reds, try Italian wines from Piedmont and Tuscany regions, France’s Burgundy, Bordeaux and northern Rhone. Believe it or not, the sweet wines from Sauternes have very high level of acidity!

So there you have it, and once again, please remember to drink less, drink better!