Friday, November 16, 2007

Red Wine Headache Discussions Give Me A Pain In The... umm...Head!

Every time I hear someone utter, "I only drink white wine because the sulfites in red wine give me headaches." And of course, the first thing I want to say is, "You dumb door knob (my apologies to you smarter door knobs - don’t bother sending me hate mail)! There are more sulfites in a glass of white wine than red and further more, there are more sulfites in your entire body than any single bottle of wine! No wonder you’re such a big pain in the...!"

But - - I don’t say that. Instead I smile and calmly try to give some friendly sulfite education, but usually it's too late. Once those naysayers of sulfites in wine get fixated on the mis-lead and uninformed subject, there is no turning back for them.

Back in the early 80's I took a wine mini-course and tour at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodenville, Washington and I remember then our tour guide informed us about those red wine headaches. We were told most headaches were caused from the natural histamines found in fruit and vegetables. Like many allergies, we can become immune to them, but in the mean time a solution to the problem was taking an antihistamine (especially one that doesn’t make the individual groggy) before consuming red wine. It seemed to solve the red wine headache problem for me and eventually I "grew" out of it.

Earlier this month, the AP reported that UC at Berkeley recently discovered new facts regarding red wine headaches. The headache inducing chemicals are called biogenic amines which occur naturally in a wide variety of aged, pickled and fermented foods, including wine, chocolate, cheese, olives, nuts and cured meats. Damn! All of my six major food groups! These amines found in my favorite foods include tyramines and histamines - bingo! Over twenty-years earlier, Ste. Michelle was right on with their red wine headache info.

Those wild 'n wacky chemists over at Berkeley have also designed a devise (a prototype for now) that can measure amines in your food and drink ahead of time. Eventually it may become a small devise that a diner could keep in their pocket or purse and take to a restaurant to analyze those pesky amines in their wines. However, if you have a headache after consuming several glasses of wine - perhaps it has nothing to do with amines. Like I tell anybody who sanctimoniously preaches to me about the evil chemicals and so-called additives found in wine and the need for more organic wines - - I remind them about the naturally made substance that has a higher percentage of anything else in a bottle of wine - alcohol. Alcohol has caused more aches and pain and created more fatalities than any sulfite or amines ever will. Duh!


ryan said...

I feel your pain. It seems every dinner party I have this discussion and the next day end up forwarding a slew of articles to all those who couldn't believe it. About once a year I also do a rant on Catavino.

In the end my main rebuttal is, "if you don't finish the bottle, your chance of headaches is greatly reduced" ;)

Virginia Janet said...

Red wine, great to stay fit and healthy!

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