For some people, a glass of wine can be enough to trigger a bad hangover. But why is wine so different from other alcoholic drinks? And why does red wine cause splitting headaches?
Read ahead to learn more about wine hangovers and what you can do to cure them.
What Causes Wine Hangovers?
A hangover is caused by drinking more alcohol than your body can handle. Your liver is able to metabolize only one unit of alcohol per hour, which equals one small glass of wine. If you’ve had three glasses of wine, your body will need between four and five hours to process them.
Although wine hangover symptoms are not that different from hangover symptoms in general like headaches, fatigue, weakness, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and anxiety, they often occur after drinking much less and are more severe.
The symptoms associated with wine hangovers result from the way your body breaks down alcohol. The biochemistry of wine is complex, and there are multiple components in wine that may be the cause behind these famously dreadful hangovers:
Tyramine is naturally found in aged and fermented food products including wine. This compound can cause your blood vessels to constrict and then dilate, which may induce severe wine hangover headaches. If you are sensible to tyramine, you’re more likely to be affected.
Many wines naturally contain histamines, which may provoke allergic reactions including headaches, rashes, flushing, and even sneezing. The level of histamines depends on the wine type and the production method. Wines that have undergone malolactic fermentation—a process where tart-tasting malic acid, naturally present in grapes, is converted to softer tasting lactic acid—have higher levels of histamine. Red wines almost always go through malolactic fermentation, and contain up to 200% more histamines than white wines.
Acetaldehyde is a byproduct of processing alcohol that can cause severe hangovers with symptoms such as sweating, skin flushing, nausea, and vomiting. Wines that have high acetaldehyde content have pronounced tart and metallic notes. They include sherry, brandy, and some sweet wines, while red wine has the lowest levels of acetaldehyde.
Sulfites are naturally present during the fermentation process, but synthetic sulfites are often added to preserve the freshness of the wine and protect it from oxidation and bacteria. Red wines usually contain somewhat lower sulfite levels since the tannins and pigments already act as natural preservatives. Some people may experience allergy-like symptoms due to the wine’s high sulfite content, but sulfite allergy is very rare.
Deep purple is a pure grape juice concentrate that winemakers add to improve the color of the wine and make it sweeter. This additive is pure fructose, which is hard for the body to process. Many wines that are made using traditional winemaking methods don’t contain deep purple.
Tannin is a byproduct of processing grape skins, stems, and seeds during the winemaking process. It is used to prevent oxidation and increase the aging potential of the wine. Tannins are shown to trigger changes in serotonin levels and release lipids known as prostaglandins, both of which can induce migraines. Wines with high tannin levels will make you more thirsty and more susceptible to dehydration.
In general, red wine hangovers are worse than the ones you get from drinking white wine. Here’s why.
Why Do Red Wine Hangovers Seem So Strong?
A type of hangover specific to red wines is commonly known as red wine headache. Splitting headaches are often accompanied by nausea and skin flushing, among other symptoms. White wine headaches, on the other hand, are much less frequent.
The intensity of a hangover is directly related to the amount of congeners the wine you're drinking contains. Congeners are impurities produced during the fermentation of alcoholic beverages, which are responsible for some of the taste, aroma, and color of the wine.
Processing congeners may compete with breaking down ethanol in your body. As a result, alcohol and its byproducts will linger for much longer, contributing to hangover symptoms. Congeners such as tannin and acetaldehyde may also stimulate the body to release stress hormones, making your hangover even worse.
The darker the wine, the more congeners it has. That’s why dark-colored reds will make you feel the worst, followed by the somewhat lighter rosés, with white wines being the least harmful.
What’s more, people who are sensitive to red wine may be deficient in enzyme diamine oxidase which is responsible for breaking down histamines. If your body is not producing enough of this enzyme, it will have trouble breaking down and processing histamines in red wine. In this case, taking an antihistamine before having a glass of wine may help reduce hangover symptoms.
The good news is, some red wines are less likely to cause extreme hangover symptoms. Here’s what you should look for:
- Make sure to choose dry reds with low alcohol content, around 12.5-13.5%, to avoid the worst hangover symptoms including migraines and nausea.
- Avoid wines with high tannin levels such as Travaglini Gattinara made with Nebbiolo, as they will make you more thirsty and easily cause dehydration. Instead, look for fruity and savory reds with moderate tannin content, like Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Mourvedre.
- Go for less extracted, medium-bodied wines that require fewer additives, such as Pruno Tempranillo.
- Choose less manipulated, biodynamic wines, for example, De Loach or Bonterra Equinox Red.
- Inexpensive wines tend to contain more additives, flavor concentrates, and sugar, all of which can be hard for your liver to process. It is worth spending a little more money on higher-quality wines.
Does Older Wine Cause Worse Hangovers?
Older wines often cause bad hangovers due to their higher content of tannin and other compounds that are regularly used to prevent oxidation and increase the wine’s aging capacity.
Besides, some wines are aged in cheap oak barrels that are treated with chemicals in order to increase the speed of flavor absorption. These chemicals may transfer into the wine and cause severe headaches.
How Long Does a Wine Hangover Last?
Wine hangovers usually last for up to 24 hours. However, there are several factors that can influence the duration of your hangover, including the wine type and ingredients, the speed at which you drink and the amount of wine you ingest, as well as how fast your body is able to metabolize alcohol. Dehydration, existing stomach problems, and not getting enough sleep may also prolong your hangover.
Read on for some useful tips on how to cure your wine hangover and ensure a fast recovery.
How to Recover From a Wine Hangover?
If you’ve had too much to drink, there are some simple things you can do to quickly recover from a hangover.
Get enough sleep
Wine hangover symptoms like fatigue, headaches, and irritability are often made worse by a lack of sleep. Getting a good night's rest and allowing your body to recover will alleviate these symptoms and make a hangover more bearable.
Because alcohol is a diuretic that causes the body to lose more water than it takes in, drinking can easily leave you dehydrated. Making sure to drink plenty of water will help you reduce some of the main hangover symptoms such as thirst and headache.
A hangover can also deplete your electrolytes. If your body has an electrolyte imbalance, water alone won’t fully rehydrate you. Add hydration tablets to your glass of water to improve your absorption of fluids and feel better.
Go for walk
Light exercise will help increase your metabolism rate so that your body can process the alcohol faster. Going for a 30-minute walk or a 10-15 minute jog is enough to get your blood flowing and remove the toxins. What’s more, exercise releases endorphins that will boost your energy levels and your mood.
Take a shower
Taking a cool shower will improve your circulation, reduce muscle inflammation, help you feel more alert, and put you in a better mood.
Eat nourishing breakfast and lunch
Eating healthy foods can help alleviate wine hangover symptoms. Have oatmeal or a protein shake for breakfast and salad or soup for lunch. Try to avoid anything too heavy, as greasy food will make you feel even more exhausted.
Take a painkiller
Over-the-counter pain relievers like Aspirin, Advil, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may help you get rid of a pounding headache and the overall body ache. You should keep in mind, however, that painkillers may be hard on your liver which is working overtime to metabolize all the byproducts from the wine. Avoid taking Tylenol—in case alcohol is still lingering in your system, it may increase acetaminophen's toxic effects on the liver.
If you are on any medications, check with your physician before taking over-the-counter painkillers to treat wine hangover. They could lead to an adverse reaction when combined with some other medications.
IV Therapy to Recover From a Wine Hangover
Reset IV hangover treatments are a fast and effective way to combat dehydration, headaches, and other common wine hangover symptoms. An IV bag will detox and rehydrate your body, restore nutrients lost after drinking, and cleanse your system. Our formulas include anti-nausea and anti-inflammatory medications to provide fast relief, so you’ll be back to feeling your normal self in no time. We also provide custom blends and add-ons to address your specific needs.
Reset IV offers a range of hangover packages to help you recover from a night of partying and drinking:
The Hydration package IV bag contains normal saline fluid that helps restore a healthy balance of fluid and electrolytes in your body while boosting your energy levels.
Still Spinning package
The Still Spinning package has a base of electrolytes and your choice of anti-heartburn medication to help with acid reflux symptoms, nausea medication to calm your stomach, or pain relief medication to help get rid of headaches.
Pre Game package
The Pre Game package is made of normal saline solution (a mixture of water and sodium chloride) that recharges the fluids necessary for normal body function, in addition to a B-vitamin complex to replenish all the nutrients you lost while drinking.
The Baller package
With the Baller package, you can choose between the following medications: anti-nausea and pain relief, anti-heartburn medications, and multivitamin cocktail. The mixture also contains Modified Myers Cocktail where vitamin C and B vitamins are combined with magnesium and calcium to speed your hangover recovery.
Defcon 1 package
In addition to a liter of fluid and electrolytes, the DEFCON 1 package gives you a choice of two of the following medications: anti-nausea, anti-heartburn, and pain relief meds.
If you would like to learn more about Reset IV therapy for hangover and schedule an appointment, feel free to call us at 1-833-737-3848 or send us a message and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.