Have you ever had a headache after drinking only a glass or two of wine?

Sipping wine is always an enjoyable experience. But the dreaded wine headache that sometimes comes afterwards is not.

Why do headaches seem more common with some types of wine and not others? Many people, including those on our Chianti wine tours, tell us that they don’t tend to get wine headaches when they drink local Tuscan wine.

What can you do to minimize your chances of getting a wine headache? There are many theories on this. However, as we explain in this article, it all boils down to one simple thing.

What causes wine headaches?

The truth is that science hasn’t been able to pinpoint the exact cause of wine headaches. That’s probably because not everyone reacts to wine in the same way.

Most theories suggest that headaches from wine are caused by various chemicals. Some of these occur naturally or may be added by the winemaker. Sulfites, tannins, histamines and sugar have all been blamed for triggering reactions in certain people.

One simple way to reduce your chances of a wine headache

The easiest way to minimize the possibility of getting a headache from wine is to choose high quality wine from small producers.

Small wineries, especially those that produce organic wines, add fewer, if any, chemicals to their wines.  They devote tremendous time and care to their vineyards to produce high quality grapes that don’t need any additives.

As an example, mass producers typically use machines to harvest the grapes as quickly as possible.  This means that some grapes which may be damaged or not yet ripe will make it into the mix. That’s one reason why large, commercial producers may add extra preservatives and sweeteners to their wine.

At family-owned wineries in Chianti, the grapes are picked by hand.  Workers will pass through the vineyard many times to pick only perfectly ripe and undamaged grapes. Only the highest quality grapes make it into the wine so that additives and flavor enhancers aren’t necessary.

This level of quality is reinforced by regulations.  For example, to attain the highest classification, DOCG, an Italian wine will contain half the amount of sulfites as a mass produced North American wine.  Of course, there are even less chemicals in organic wines from Italy.

Finally, it’s always a good idea to drink plenty of water, sip your wine slowly and have healthy food with your wine.  That may be another reason why we’re less likely to get headaches with Tuscan wine.  We like to linger at the table!

We’d love to share our Tuscan traditions with you.  Join us for a visit to three organic wineries on our most popular Chianti wine tour from Florence.