Wine Talk

Snooth User: wineydoc

age old question--"side effects" of red wine

Posted by wineydoc, Nov 23, 2010.

there has always been controversy over what causes the headache of red wine.  sulfites, whatever.  they don't really have anything to do with it.  sulfites are everywhere, used to preserve most everything you eat.  i've heard that changing brands of wine can help.  i've also heard of taking antihistamines.  any other suggestions i can pass along to my patients?  thx.

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Replies

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Reply by dmcker, Nov 23, 2010.

Well,....

  • Don't drink so much?
  • Don't mix too many forms of alchohol?
  • Eat something when you drink?
  • Drink water, too?
  • Make sure you're exercising plenty?
  • Drink in an oxygen rich (as opposed to tobacco rich) environment?
  • Etc....
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Reply by wineydoc, Nov 23, 2010.

points well taken.  yes, drinking the same amount of water as alcohol will reduce hangover and headache,  mixing types of alcohol actually is a myth.  the kind of alcohol doesn't really matter.  when you drink more than one kind at a sitting, it just throws off your sense of serving size, so you end up drinking more.  actually, breathing oxygen is a bona fide treatment for cluster migraines, so that is a possibility.  and of course the rule with alcohol is, 1-2 drinks per day may be helpful for your heart.  more than that may be harmful.  and no, you can't save them all up for the weekend.

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Reply by dmcker, Nov 23, 2010.

Would like to have a proper debate about the mixing forms of alcohol. Anecdotal though it may be, I find from considerable viewed or personally-suffered experience that mixing definitely leads to worse hangovers than similar volumes of only one or two forms of alcohol. Know of any scientific studies on this subject???

And make sure they include Sake as one of the four or five forms of alcohol... ;-)

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Reply by StevenBabb, Nov 23, 2010.

i've heard the mixing of alcahol theory a lot as a bartender... and i'm not sure i totaly agree...

i've mixed consumption on almost everything... chased a shot of patron with a shot of henessy, fallowed by another shot of patron... the thing to remember is to stay hydrated... if you down a couple glasses of water an hour, the next day won't suck.... as much

as far as red wine, and its effects, there's natural histamines in the wine, so some people are more sensitive to them than others...

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Reply by Stephen Harvey, Nov 23, 2010.

d - I suspect the logical reason for your observation is that when you stick to one or two forms of alcohol you are probably drinking at the better end of the scale.

Many alcohol products at the cheap end of the scale have additives that conspire to effectively poison us.

I remember reading many years ago that the combination of high sulphur levels can react with ethanol to produce a chemical that creates severe hangovers - maybe Napagirl can help us here.

I suspect the combination that creates severe hangovers can go like this:

3+ Commercial Beers - Budweisser? Victoria Bitter?

Some really cheap wine  -yellowtail or that wine everyone loves to hate Layercake[is that the name? was roundly bagged in a recent thread] or something like that

A bunch of cheap commercial scotches maybe JW Red and maybe with coke

Then finish with that infamous Aussie icon - the cleansing Ale

Naturally you have avoided the natural enemy of hangovers water consumption

Mix this with ordinary or no food, followed by a yiros, pie, taco or Big mac on the way home and I suspect you have created the perfect hangover

 

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Reply by dmcker, Nov 23, 2010.

I discovered the issue with the oldskool Japanese combo of beer followed by Sake followed by whisky way back when I was an exchange student in Tokyo.

Later I perfected the mix by skipping the whisky and throwing in some cocktails with rum or vodka followed by tequila shots followed by other mixed drinks, all after dinners with either champagne, white wine, red wine, grappa and espresso, or beer and sake at a Japanese meal, perhaps even some Shochu,  whereupon we went clubbing and got to the drinks in the first part of this sentence.

If I were to just stay with the dinners and have only Sake and beer or a few kinds of wines, and drink even 3 bottles of wine myself, I wouldn't have as bad a hangover as an equivalent amount of alcohol in that other mixture.

Yes, wineydoc, we're talking way past a couple of drinks here....

And Stephen: VB and Bud are certainly to be avoided, as is Yellowtail, Nikka Whisky (bad stuff in Japan, though still better than Mekong in Thailand), etc., etc. Wonder what happens when you throw jugs of Carlo Rossi into the mix?

 

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Reply by wineydoc, Nov 25, 2010.

well, i understand the hangover concept, and i'm pretty sure we all KNOW how to avoid it, we just don't PRACTICE avoidance of the hangover.  i'm thinking more about the red wine reaction--the immediate headache, the skin flush (not the hereditary absence of the mitochondrial form of alcohol dehydrogenase--that reaction occurs with any form of alcohol).  i have one patient who actually gets sores on her face the day after red wine--but only after red wine.  any other suggestions for avoiding that kind of reaction?  thx. 

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Reply by Andrew46, Nov 25, 2010.

Although I am not 100% on this, I think that the issue with red wine is a histamine reaction.  This is likely the case for those that say whites affect them less.  The more tannin, the more reaction.  The reaction varies, to be sure. 

On the hangover issue, I think a major part, along with dehydration, is lack of sleep.  Just a theory.  It seems like my sleep-o-meter does not start registering until I am no longer drunk.

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Reply by Stephen Harvey, Nov 25, 2010.

Histamine reaction is quite common, I get blocked sinuses after drinking red wine, particularly more noticable during high pollen count times - smalll price to pay!!!

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Reply by dmcker, Nov 25, 2010.

Similar for me, Stephen, minus the pollen issue, but only for some red wines in my case, and it is a transient reaction. My body seems to compensate and later in the evening the effect is gone. Sometimes it last only five minutes, sometimes an hour or so.

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Reply by Stephen Harvey, Nov 25, 2010.

Sadly I get blocked sinuses without red wine - it just makes it worse, but a small price to pay

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Reply by napagirl68, Nov 28, 2010.

This sums it up pretty well.. based on scientific articles I've read about cogeners and also additive in cheap, bulk wine (avoid like the plague).  A simple, non-scientific article, but based in truth, from scientific studies I have perused over the years re: wine/allergies (but found info on wine/hangovers):

http://www.banderasnews.com/0506/rr-congeners.htm

And agree with the histamine thing... the sulfite issue is a bit bunk with reds, as more sulfites are added to WHITES. I blame the stuffy nose issue on HISTAMINE 100%.. and I have notice it varies from wine to wine (even within the same varietal).  Think it can depend on other agents, such as clearing agents, etc.  JMO

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Reply by wineydoc, Nov 28, 2010.

ah, the clearing agents.  i haven't heard that before, but that may be why it can vary from one producer to the next.  my husband hasn't used any clearing agents yet in making our wine (i don't think).  what kind of different substances are used for clearing the wine?  thx.

so far, however, i think histamines is coming out the winner (or loser, however you'd like to put it). 

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Reply by napagirl68, Nov 28, 2010.

Here's a pretty good article re: clearing agents:

http://www.winemakermag.com/stories/techniques/article/indices/12-clarityfiltration/26-a-clearer-understanding-of-fining-agents

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Reply by Girl Drink Drunk, Nov 28, 2010.

There's a poster on Chowhound named marialorraine who has posted lots of amazing info about this topic.  You should search for her posts.  She knows her shit.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Nov 29, 2010.

Well, I was going to say histamines, but plainly this topic has drawn the experts.  NG will provide a full chemical analysis of whatever theory you have.  Suflites are not the problem, at least for all but a few people and all but a few wines, and it's not particular to reds. 

I think the hangover/mixing issue is one I am an expert in, having frequently drunk all comers under the table.  I swore off beer as a volume drink and started drinking Wild Turkey 101 w/ club soda backs at 20.  Since then, I have moved on to other spirits and wine, but the lesson learned was, drink the club soda back.  In other words, hydrate.  A lot.  The club soda fills you up a little with the bubbles and slows down the drinking, but that didn't stop me from drinking as much as a fifth of whiskey in a night.  But by drinking such a large volume of soda backs (8:1 ratio, about), I never had bad hangovers.  Doubt I could stay awake for it now, but I still drink plenty of water when we get to the bottle-per-person dinner parties.

Sleep is also a factor, and it never hurts to make sure you are eating balanced meals, not too high in fat, salt, and sugar on either side of the drinking.

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Reply by wineydoc, Nov 29, 2010.

after reading the article provided by napagirl68, now i'm wondering, what percentage of wineries use clearing agents in their wines? 

i do recall that some of the kits we've produced from have the bentonite in them--i got to stir it.  i'm not aware of any others we've used, and i'm not aware of the bentonite causing any allergy type problems. 

but the chitosan, the egg whites, isinglass or casein could trigger allergy for some people.  it looks like most of these are added after fermentation?  and i understand that it should all bind and drop out, but there is always a possibility of protein being left behind.

is there any way to check the label & find the use of clearing agents?  am i getting a little too technical or nitpicky?  or should we just stick with antihistamines (which of course will blunt any allergic reaction, too)?

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Reply by napagirl68, Nov 29, 2010.

Ok.. so I mentioned clearing agents because it theoretically COULD account for one person being allergic to a certain wine, than another.  It happened to me... one amazing wine out of Napa causes me true anaphylaxis (although mild) symptoms...  Seems they are bioidentical and organic, and use shellfish or something like that in a clearing process.  I am allergic to shellfish.

I think, in the beginning of this thread, we were talking about the horrible headache that comes to some after drinking RED WINE specifically.  I do not consider this a true, IgE immune-mediated allergic reaction.  For a true allergy, there is such effects as drop in BP, angioedema of sinuses, larynx, hives, dizziness, asthma, etc.I don't think the "red wine headache" is an allergic reaction- perhaps an intolerance to something in the wine.

Thus, why I posted the first response on cogeners in alcohol.  It wasn't a very scientific article :-)  so, here is a better one that scientifically describes the various toxins formed in the fermentation process.  It is my thought that one's reactions to these toxins is akin to an intolerance to MSG.... I know people who drink any alcohol and flush wildly and get tachycardia.  Also, those with migraines can be triggered by tyramines, such as RED WINE, aged cheeses, and other foods.  Here is the article I mentioned:

http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/drugs-alcohol/hangover3.htm

It seems this thread went off in two different directions: allergies vs. side effects (or intolerances). I agree that sulfites are not to blame unless you have a true sulfite allergy, which you would prolly know about before even reaching the age of drinking.  I also agree there are histamines in wine, and all alcohol, for that matter.  I have an acquaintance that has mastocytosis... which results in breakdown of mast cells (that release histamine), sometimes in lethal doses.  She carries an epi pen, and MUST avoid all alcohol, no exceptions (since alcohol contains histamine). 

and yes, I think the vast majority of commercially available wines use clearing agents, and no, I don't think they cause the red wine headache.  But some could use agents that one may be allergic or intolerant to...

I think the smoking gun is cogeners, explained in the article above.

 

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Reply by Stephen Harvey, Nov 30, 2010.

NG

Going back to the Sulphur issue, some cheaper wines, both white and red are made with a very heavy use of sulphur [sulphur dioxide]as part of the winemaking process, I can't quite remember the true chemical reason, but I think it is used to kill off unwanted yeasts or in cheap wines to force finish the fermentation process.  I wonder if the excess SO2 can produce some "nasties" which impact some people.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Nov 30, 2010.

You could perhaps get a headache from the sulfurous smell when you first open a wine with excessive sulfur dioxide, but I think I am going to leave that to NG and her chemistry skills.  I don't think the reaction would be the one we are talking about.  My vote is still with histamines. 

There's an easy way to avoid "finishing" products:  Buy wine that is unfined (especially) and unfiltered.  On a recent visit to a winery in Napa, the owner told us that most of the upper end reds are now either unfined and unfiltered or only lightly fined and filtered.  The reason is consumer expectation:  The wine gets paler as you fine/filter.  So most reds from Napa are now unfined and unfiltered to maintain an almost opaque darkness, at least at the level this winery sells at ($45+ for reds, although there are discounts to be had...).  The 2010 Napa whites will have to be filtered extensively because the crop was badly damaged--we saw some of the juice and it was cloudy, almost opaque, and looked like rancid pee.  It's going to be a tough vintage. But fining and filtering happens with whites, too, maybe more so, so that's again questionable as a reason. 

NG's shellfish allergy was interesting.  It's not just what they use, but how they derive it that is worth knowing.  NG, watch those anaphylactic reactions--they do get more severe with repeated exposure.   

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