The scene: An introvert (me) walks into a room full of people celebrating. Some of the attendees are acquaintances, some are friends, but many are strangers.
My husband, aka, Mr. Social Butterfly, is happy in this setting and makes the rounds with confidence and endless witty banter. I, on the other hand, look for one friendly face, or at least an out of the way spot. Conversation takes energyâ€¦energy that drains faster than a keg at a fraternity.
Speaking of kegs, out of the corner of my eye I see a table laden with social lubrication. A row of wine bottles beckon with stubby corks while shiny glasses whisper, â€œFill me. Drink me. Be Relaxed.â€ Ah, salvation. Red and white escape.
My husbandâ€”who does keep track of meâ€”follows my stare and nods. Within moments he places a cold glass of chardonnay in my hands and wanders off to finish a discussion on the merits of the Womenâ€™s Gopher basketball team.
I sip, and watch, and know I will get a headache. More and more that is what happens when I drink wine. On this occasion I donâ€™t care because itâ€™s a crutch to get through a social evening. And yet I wonder why the wine/headache combo is becoming more common.
At first I thought it was just me. I tried switching between red and white, but it didnâ€™t seem to matter. Then I wondered if it was midlife, age-related, issue. A lot of my female friends have stopped drinking wine altogetherÂ because of headaches, or at least pick their occasions. I was thinking it was age until my daughter, age thirty, said she gets headaches from wine too. Hmmm.
I Googled â€œwine headachesâ€ and on http://vinepair.com/wine-101/wine-and-headaches/ read this:
There are three main culprits and solutions, but before we explain them, we want to clear up one myth â€“ sulfites do not cause headaches. While sulfites can cause asthma symptoms, they do not cause headaches.
On to the three major headache-inducing culprits:
- Culprit One â€“ Tannins:Â
- As we discussed in our tannins post, tannins are naturally occurring compounds that exist inside grape skins, seeds and stems. You experience the effect of tannins any time you drink a wine that creates a drying sensation in your mouth, and for the majority of us, tannins create no headache at all. In fact, tannins are a great antioxidant source. But, if you seem to get headaches from wine more often when you drink red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec, you can do a quick test to see if tannins are the source of your headache trouble. Brew a cup of black tea and let the tea steep for five or ten minutes longer than the package suggests. Black tea is strong in tannins and over-steeping the tea will ensure they are all released into the water. Drink the tea and see if you get a headache. If so, you are susceptible to tannins and avoiding red wines will solve your headache issue.
- Culprit Two â€“ Sugar:â€¨Alcohol and sugar are two substances that when combined can create a powerful headache. When your body consumes alcohol or sugar, you need lots of water in order to help process the substances. If you are not well hydrated, your body starts to pull the necessary water it needs from other parts or your body, including your head. As the liquid in your head starts to deplete, a headache forms. To prevent this problem, avoid sweet dessert wines and white wines such as Riesling that are labeled semi-dry or sweet (if you enjoy Riesling but donâ€™t want the sugar headache, make sure the wine is labeled as dry). Also to be avoided are cheaper wines, which tend to have more sugar due to the fact that mass producers add sugar during fermentation in order to boost the alcohol.
- Culprit Three â€“ Histamines:â€¨Histamines are chemicals that are released when we have an allergic reaction and can cause symptoms such as a runny nose, dry eyes and a headache. Recent research has found that food and drinks that have been aged, such as dry aged meats and red wines, can cause our body to release histamines and create these allergy-type symptoms. To prevent a histamine headache, simply take a histamine blocker such as Claritin prior to having a glass of red wine.
Letâ€™s repeat: for most of us, the cause of a wine headache is simply drinking too much wine and not enough water. The mythical wine headache cure? Itâ€™s simple: the cure for a wine headache is to stop one it before it ever starts.Â In other words, donâ€™t overdo itâ€¦especially at an office party!
Â Interesting, but Iâ€™m not convinced. One glass often gives me a headache, and I donâ€™t consider that overindulging. I drink a lot of water, iced tea, and yes, my beloved but bad for me Diet Coke, so I donâ€™t believe Iâ€™m dehydrated. In fact, if Iâ€™m at a party or bar itâ€™s common for me to order one glass of tea or Diet Coke, and one glass of chardonnay. I sip from both over the course of the evening. Cheap wine? Maybe, but how does one know? If youâ€™re at a party and hubby shows up with elixir in hand… I donâ€™t know the source. Nor, might I add, do I care at that point.
How about you? Share if youâ€™ve had wine headaches. What do you do about them, and why do you think they occur? Me? Â Iâ€™ll be sitting over in the corner, sipping on a chardonnay, waiting for your response.