Why Does Wine Give Me A Headache?

We’ve all been there before, we’ve had a bit too much to drink the night before and in the morning it feels like your head is about to explode, or you may be one of the unlucky ones that gets a headache almost instantaneously after drinking a glass of wine.

Why Does Wine Give Me A Headache?

It’s a sure fire way to ruin the rest of the evening and almost guarantees you won’t be much fun.

There’s not too much research that’s been done about why wine gives us headaches, but we’re going to look at wine headaches in a bit more detail in this article and if there’s any way to avoid getting one.

Let’s get right into it!

What Causes A Wine Headache?

Now we all know that alcohol almost always leads to a hangover the next morning, and wine is one of the worst culprits for it, more specifically red wine.

Some people get wine headaches almost instantly after having a sip, others have their headaches creep up on them throughout the next few hours.

Regardless of when it happens, the pain is awful! So why does it happen?

Well, the alcohol in the wine can dilate the blood vessels in your brain making it more likely for you to suffer from a headache.

Another reason is that alcohol is a diuretic, which makes you pee a lot more often, which leads to you losing more fluid than you’re taking in, because let’s face it- we’re not drinking any water on a night out!

As we said, there’s no clear cut scientific answers about why we get headaches from wine, but there’s a few theories floating around that help to answer this question.


This may be a foreign word to you, so we’ll explain what they are in a little bit more detail so that you can understand.

Tannins are a type of bitter and astringent chemical compounds that are quite abundant in nature and you can often find them in tree bark, leaves and fruits.

The tannins in wine come from the skin, seeds or even the stem of the grape, they help to give the wine a certain flavor and provide a mouth-coating sensation.

So if you’re consuming wine that creates a drying sensation in your mouth, chances are the wine you’re having contains tannins.

For the most part, a lot of us wine drinkers won’t get headaches from the tannins within the wine, and they’re actually a brilliant antioxidant source.

But if you find that you’re getting headaches specifically when drinking red wine, then this may be the culprit.

Consuming wine with tannins in makes your body release more serotonin, which can prompt headaches in some people.

They’re also in a wide variety of other food and drink, like tea, dark chocolate and some berries, so if you’re getting headaches whilst eating or drinking any of these things as well as wine, then it’s most likely due to the tannins.



Histamines are chemicals that our immune system makes and they’re released once we have an allergic reaction to something, giving us all the dreaded symptoms of allergies, like a runny nose, sore eyes or a headache.

Histamines are found in grape skins and again drinking red wine is more likely to give you a headache due to the histamines found in the grape as red wines are made with the whole grape, and white wines are made without the grape skin.

Some research has shown that aged meats and wines are more likely to cause our body to release histamines and create these dreaded symptoms.

If you have a histamine sensitivity, then you’re more likely to get a headache from these chemicals too.

A good way to check if it’s the histamines that are the culprit, is to eat fish, salami, aged cheese or eggplant.

These all contain a higher histamine level than alcoholic drinks, so if you get a headache whilst eating any one of these foods, then histamines are behind your headaches.


You may not be surprised at this one, but the sugar content found in wines can create a horrible headache.

You probably already know that when you drink alcohol, your body becomes dehydrated and needs more water than usual, well it’s the same for sugar too.

Your body needs water to help process the substances, making alcohol and sugar a match made in hell, so if you’re not hydrated enough your body will start to take water from other places within the body, including your head and as the liquid depletes within your head, a headache will start to form.

Sugar also causes hormonal changes in your body and these shifts can cause your blood vessels in the brain to change behavior, resulting in a nasty headache.

How To Avoid A Wine Headache

The simple answer is to stop drinking wine, but of course that’s not a viable answer, is it?

For most of us, the cause of a wine headache is simply not drinking enough water whilst drinking wine.

But if the culprit is any of the three we listed above then there’s a few steps you can take to minimize the chance of a headache happening.

If you can, try to stop your consumption of red wine and stick to whites.

Red wines have a lot of problem areas regarding headaches and they’ve been regarded as a migraine trigger for a while.

If you’re going to start drinking white wine, make sure to avoid sweet wines and aim for dry wines, they’ll have less sugar content within them.

If histamines are your problem, then make sure to take a histamine blocker before your pour your first glass of wine.

With all of these things, make sure you hydrate during your drinking session.

A good rule of thumb is to have a glass of water in between each alcoholic drink and to ensure you have one big glass of water before you go to sleep.

Rachel Edwards
Latest posts by Rachel Edwards (see all)