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Notes from the vineyard

We get a lot of guests that mention they suffer from bad headaches from drinking wine. And, no, I am not talking about the headache you get from drinking too much wine, but some people will get a headache a couple of hours later after drinking just a glass of wine. There are proven studies that some wines may cause headaches, however there are numerous sources that may be the cause.There is a medical syndrome called Red Wine Headaches (RWH) which a lot of people suffer from. Many people automatically assume that the headaches are caused from sulfites which are added to the wine for preservation. Unfortunately recent studies found that less than 1% of the American population is allergic to sulfites and since sulfites also exist in most white wines, sulfites are usually not the main culprit.Since sulfites do not seem to be a big issue anymore, researchers started researching other factors. In a large study of wine drinkers, researchers found that many people had headaches from drinking red wine. Research was narrowed down to focus on the tannins in red wine. Tannins are the compounds in red grape skins and seeds. However, the idea pointing to tannins was dismissed when other foods such as soy, tea and chocolate (which all contain tannins) were also studied and most people did not report getting a headache.So as the research continued, histamines were evaluated. Many older wines, wines made in the1960’s) had a higher level of histamines in the wine, however with recent technology advances, histamines levels are much lower in the wines. Some people believe that wines which  have aged for a while don’t give them headaches while others believe the younger wines are safer to drink.As researchers continue to look at different causes of the headaches they suggest you continue to try different wines to see if you can identify wines that don’t give you a headache. If you know that you are allergic to sulfites, then you know that wines that contain sulfites are not for you. However, if you do not have any known allergies, I recommend that you try a half glass of wine. If you don’t notice the start of a headache in 15 – 20 minutes, then that wine is usually safe for you to drink.
Amanda is the Co-Owner of Candlelight Winery located at 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville. For more information on events or wine lists from the winery, please visit www.candlelightwinery.com or call 330.527.4118.

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