Does Mixing Wines REALLY give you a Headache?

To mix or not to mix? That is the questions. It’s that time of year. Time to be festive and let’s face it, a time when we find ourselves being a little excessive (you know what I’m talking about). Too much chocolate. Too much cheese and too much mixing of alcohols. The French call it “le gueule de bois” (the wooden face) and our sommelier Fred is here to break it down for you: does mixing drinks really give you a headache.

A glass of champagne, white wine for the appetizer, a glass of red wine with the main course and sweet wine for dessert: Ouch!!!! Morning HEADACHE here you come.

«It ‘s because I mixed too many wines! » But does mixing wines really give you a headache.

Yes…no…. well maybe … according to scientist…. Hard to say … according to you: YES!!!!

wine headache

The naked truth? It’s not really true in fact, but it is hard to find a clear answer to this burning question, just because nobody is all that certain about the true answer; many studies have been carried out but only a few results have emerged, so I’ll try my best to make it clear or clearer as the case might be.

First: mixing wines DOES NOT give headaches! But the amount of alcohol you drink will definitely affect how much your head will ache! To make it simple, alcohol has a diuretic effect, so the more alcohol you drink, the more your body becomes dehydrated: and the reduction of liquid in the brain causes headaches.

Second: Very often, sulfites are blamed for headaches: not all studies agree with this hypothesis, but it is obvious that drinking wine with no added sulfites will cause fewer headaches (I can attest to that first hand). But the lobby on sulfites is huge and the use of sulfites is widespread in the supermarket industry, especially in food conservation, in all preserved food. For example, while a classic wine (not organic or biodynamic) can contain for a red up to 160mg/ltr, for white 210mg/ltr and sweet wines up to 400mg/ltr, it could be 10 times more for dried fruits, like apricots, which contain up to 2000mg/kg! But who is going to say, ouch I got a headache from eating too many dried apricots last night?

wine headache

So why do they keep using sulfites? Simple – because only 1 to 3% of the population is severely allergic to sulfites and it is the best antioxidant, anti-bacterial agent and the best compound to preserve the colour of fruits, vegetables and for our purposes, wine!

So if you are not allergic to what you eat, you should not be to wine either!

Third: Many people blame red wine for headaches, and as shown before, it should be whites or sweet wines, because red wine contains fewer sulfites but…. they do contain many more tannins and histamine or prostaglandins…. all responsible for allergic reactions and possible causes of headaches.

wine headache

But there are a lot of tannins in chocolate & tea. Tough call isn’t it? Do you eliminate chocolate and tea as well?

So you will understand that it is quite hard to blame a specific wine, or cause for headaches knowing that it depends on a conjunction of many different chemical components of said wine, and also of your personal reaction to those components!

So the best advice I could give is to drink a glass of water between each glass of wine you’ll sip, it will help put off dehydration: and less dehydration = fewer headaches.

AND NO CHEATING! I know a bottle of wine is about 90% of water… but I am talking pure water!

Don’t drink the whole bottle alone!  Too much alcohol = dehydration =headaches! You’ve been there. Why go there again?

You can also try to drink organic or biodynamic wines which have fewer added sulfites or none at all.

And remember folks, always drink in moderation.

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