Why Are Red Wine Hangovers So Bad?

Hangovers are a messy affair. The interesting thing is that not everyone reacts to alcohol the same. For some, a single glass of wine is enough to get sick. Symptoms can range from itchiness of the skin and coughing to pounding headaches. Red wine is especially harsh on people that cannot handle it. But there is no one reason why. There are many substances contained within red wine that can cause people to feel sick, and the only way to tell which one affects you is to look at the symptoms.


If people suffer from migraines after drinking red wine, the most probable culprits are congeners. Congeners are a substance that can be found naturally in most alcoholic drinks. Their primary role is to give the drink its flavor. Unfortunately, some of the congeners, mainly tannins, that are found in wine increase chances of migraines. This is especially true for people who are already susceptible to migraines. This is easily recognized, but sadly for all the winos out there, the only cure is to avoid red wine completely. So in order to avoid these migraines, your best bet is to switch over to white wine or maybe try a rose. The reason why white wine does not cause the headaches red wine does is that they do not contain the same congeners.

Coughs and Itchiness

Another common symptom is itchiness and coughing after consuming red wine. The same symptoms occur if you suffer from some food allergies. These “allergic reactions” are caused by substances that can be found in all wines. One of the most common substances that causes these kinds of symptoms are sulfites. Sulfites are used to keep wine from spoiling. Sulfites can also be found in many different foods. Some of the foods that contain this substance are aged cheeses like parmesan. So a wine and cheese platter at that party you are going to on the weekend might not be the best idea.

On the other hand, an itchy rash is probably caused by histamine. Histamine allergies can even cause headaches, but these are no way near as severe as the migraines that are triggered by congeners like tannin.

One way to avoid the histamines and sulfites in wine is to drink organic wines. Another thing that can help is to stick to drier wines, as the sweet wines tend to contain more sulfites.

Problems with Digestion

If you thought that was all, you are wrong. Wine has another substance that can cause digestive issues. That substance is called LTP. LTP is a protein that gives red wine its color. This same substance can cause diarrhea and flushing. While none of these symptoms are deadly, they are extremely unpleasant. Drinking wine for these people really makes no sense when you take everything into consideration.

Are There Any Alternatives?

One of the most important things to remember is that most of these allergies are dependent on the doses you consume. Basically, the more wine you consume, the more severe the symptoms. A glass of red wine should not go over five ounces. Most people consume much more than that. A standard serving in a restaurant is about six ounces. At home, you can pour even more than that.

A red wine glass is much bigger than a glass for white wine. The reason behind this is that red wine needs to breathe. This enhances the aroma opens up the palate. For most people, a five-ounce glass is more than enough to satiate their need for red wine, but they go over it and that is where the issues start occurring.

So the rich taste of wine we all love might not be worth the price of admission. The headaches, rashes, and coughing are too high of a price for the momentary pleasure wine provides.

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