What is in wine that gives you a headache?

Answered by Willian Lymon

Tannins are an important component of red wines that contribute to their flavor and also offer some health benefits. These plant chemicals are found in the skin, seeds, and stems of grapes, and they give red wines their characteristic astringency and dryness. Tannins are also present in other foods and beverages such as tea, chocolate, and certain fruits.

One of the effects of tannins in the body is their ability to stimulate the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in regulating mood, appetite, and sleep. Serotonin is often referred to as the “feel-good” hormone because it contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness. However, when serotonin levels become imbalanced or excessively high, it can lead to headaches or migraines in some individuals.

It is important to note that not everyone is sensitive to tannins and their effects on serotonin levels. Some people can consume tannin-rich foods and wines without experiencing any adverse effects, while others may be more susceptible to headaches or migraines. The exact reasons behind this sensitivity are not fully understood and can vary from person to person.

In my personal experience, I have encountered individuals who claim to be more prone to headaches after consuming red wine compared to white wine or other alcoholic beverages. However, it is worth mentioning that there are various factors that can contribute to headaches after wine consumption, including dehydration, alcohol content, sulfites, and individual sensitivities to other compounds present in wine.

It is also important to highlight that tannins, despite their potential role in triggering headaches, possess antioxidant properties that can be beneficial for overall health. Antioxidants help protect the body’s cells from damage caused by harmful molecules known as free radicals. Red wine, in moderation, has been associated with potential health benefits such as cardiovascular protection and reduced risk of certain diseases.

To summarize, tannins found in red wines can stimulate the release of serotonin, which at high levels may lead to headaches in some individuals. However, the exact reasons behind this sensitivity and the variability among individuals are not fully understood. It is important to remember that wine consumption involves various factors, and tannins are just one of them. Moderation and individual awareness of personal sensitivities can help in enjoying wine without experiencing headaches.