Saturday, June 6, 2009

A Glass Of Headache

I just learned about something called Red Wine Headache. It even has its own acronym, RWH.

Of course, I knew that it's possible to get a headache after drinking red wine. But I figured that that was also called a hangover. Maybe I'm the last wine drinker in the world to learn that you can get a RWH without really drinking all that much.

One of my favorite wines is Tarapaca Cabernet Sauvignon. It's a $15 bottle of wine that is often on sale in Prague for $5, so I buy -- and drink -- quite a bit of it. I have a friend who drinks a lot of wine but who says he can't drink Tarapaca without getting a headache.

I guess I kinda discounted his headaches as being, well, all in his head (at least as far as being caused by the Tarapaca, that is).

Until today.

I woke up with a smashing headache, a real stomach turner. I felt nauseous. I took a handful of pain killers, but it's still never quite gone away, nine hours later.

Last night, I drank a bottle of Aromo Private Reserve Carmenere 2007. I really nice bottle of wine from Chile. What I woke up with was not a hangover, however. It was a RWH. I'm sure of it now.

Turns out RWH even has its own Wikipedia page.

They're not sure what causes it (sulfites, histamines, tannins), only that it is a legitimate phenomenon. And each person is affected differently by different wines. A wine that I love gives my friend a headache, for example.

There's no cure, other than staying away from red wines that give you a heachache.

It was delicious, but I guess I won't be having a glass of Aroma Private Reserve Carmenere 2007 anytime soon. Thankfully, I only bought one bottle.


  1. Ohhh!!! been there! I feel your pain.
    Hope it is only the one kind that will do that to you.
    It is all trial and error ;)
    Enjoy your blog!

  2. My extensive research has shown that wearing a bike helmet (or not biking home from a party where red wine is served) reduces red wine headaches by approximately 87.243 percent. I should note, however, that my extensive research may not apply in all cases. It's mostly centered around me.

  3. Weezi, thanks for the kind words. And Mark, I promise to now wear my helmet when opening and drinking a bottle of my favorite red. You can't be too careful...

  4. Seems posting some gusto has replaced cycling, at least for the time being... Hope you can get back on the saddle soon..

    Anyway, to the headache thing. I don't remember ever having something like that, at least not without getting drunk on red wine (a bad idea).

    I have heard of people suffering the same with white wine. I think my dad used to suffer from it, but it was only with cheaper wines, I think.

    There is something similar with Budvar. Some can get skull cracking headaches after drinking only a couple of pints. Again, never happened to me (not even after getting drunk on the stuff this time), but I've heard about a doctor that said that if you have that problem you should have one or two pints a day for a couple of days and problem solved. Wonder if that works with these wines.

  5. Never heard of that Budvar phenomenon but it sounds eerily familiar. Glad I don't suffer from that! I hope to be back in the saddle in early July sometime. Have to go through some physical therapy first. Ugh. But right now I can't lift my left arm very far.

  6. Red Wine, used to give me hangovers until a friend suggested me the best way to stop hangover tips.

    Drink with breaks,
    Eat or have a glass of water during the break,
    Limit yourself
    And if you're going for heavy drinking then also consider an anti hangover drink.

    These tips works for me every time. Hope it will save you guys :)