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Breaking Up With Red Wine

Breaking Up With Red Wine

Red wine is a common migraine trigger for many individuals, with or without being chronic. Originally, it was not one for me and I would have a glass of wine every night with dinner. I went through some life style changes that involved a break from my daily glass. Much to my dismay when I started trying to have a glass of red wine again, it never failed to cause a migraine to creep up if I did not have one or intensify if I did already have one. These days I am guaranteed to feel the effects before I even finish a glass.

So why red wine should be an ex

There are two primary things found in red wine that are generally considered to blame for the red wine triggered migraine. Dr. Frederick G. Freitag is a headache specialist and an associate professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin and he believes that the tyramine and tannins in the red wine is what causes the headache (for some) and migraine (for others) reaction that many people experience (Carlson, 2016).

Tyramine is produced by fermentation and can affect individuals who are unable to break down the amino acid causing a migraine to be triggered and it can affect blood pressure as well (Carlson, 2016). Individuals with blood pressure normally on the higher end could acquire a headache by the increase in their blood pressure due to the red wine consumption. There is a reason why individuals who are unable to drink red wine can still drink white wines. Most of the blame is placed on tannin. Tannin is a chemical substance found in grape skins and seeds, which are left during the production of red wine but mainly removed during the production of white wine (Carlson, 2016).

If you are going to date anyway

The executive chairman of the National Headache Foundation and the director emeritus of the Diamond Headache Clinic, Dr. Seymour Diamond, gives to suggestions for trying to avoid the red wine migraine if you are insistent on having a glass. His first piece of advice is to drink the wine with water or to try sipping the wine very slowly, since wine itself can dehydrate you (Carlson, 2016). This is logical advice for the consumption of any alcohol since dehydration is part of the hangover. Secondly he suggests that you consume two strong cups of coffee prior to drinking the red wine in order to constrict your blood vessels and help lower the effect of the tannins (Carlson, 2016).

Breaking up

Most people choose to simply not drink red wine since they know it will trigger a migraine for them. Personally, if a few glasses of red wine are in my future tonight I will choose to take an abortive medication prior to my first sip of red wine. While this does help me prevent a full forced migraine from occurring instantly, it is not a guaranteed that I will not wake up with a killer one in the morning. Due to this, I rarely partake in red wine and stick primarily to various white wines that are available. It is equally important to stay hydrated with white wine as with red, or you may wake up with an old fashioned hangover.


Carlson, Debbie (2016, May 25). What’s Really Causing that Red Wine Headache. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved from

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Mooncat
    2 years ago

    I have tried the water with wine idea a number of times and it does help. Sometimes it just delays the reaction until the morning hangover but at least I’m able to enjoy my evening with friends.

    I have two migraine problems with alcohol. The first is that I cannot drink anything with a high sugar content without having an immediate migraine. I should say that these are ones that taste sweet. I’ve heard that even some dry-tasting wines can have a high sugar content. Go figure.

    The other has to do with beer. I haven’t decided whether it’s a reaction to the grains or the yeast. Both appear to incite migraine. It’s a pity since I love the taste of a mild lager beer.

  • Amanda Workman moderator author
    2 years ago

    Some individuals do have a sensitivity to sugar and wheat. The only thing that I could suggest is trying to research wine prior to consuming it to see how much sugar content it has and then how you feel afterwards. I do have a friend who is diabetic so when he drinks alcohol, they are careful to stick to certain types of whiskey because it has a lower sugar content, etc. Hopefully one day you will be able to find a few brands that you can safely consume and not have to regret.
    Amanda Workman

  • ramjar
    2 years ago

    Interesting article! However I’m quite surprised that sulphites (added to wines as a preservative) were not identified as one of the primary migraine trigger culprits – more so even than the two elements mentioned!

  • Amanda Workman moderator author
    2 years ago

    ramjar – Sulphites are found in red and white wines, and actually less sulphites are found in red wines than in white wines, according to migraine relief center. This being said I do have a friend who is also a migraine advocate who can at times have problems with dry white wines. I do think that this is something that goes back to the unfortunate everybody responds differently to triggers, medications, and treatments. Do white wines give you migraines as well as red wines?
    Amanda Workman ( Moderator & Contributor)

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