The Dreaded Wine Hangover
There are few ailments that can ruin your night faster than a wine headache. A dull thudding starts in the back of your neck and slowly pulses its way to the middle of your forehead. Game over. Worse still is the next morning when you wake up with a wine hangover. So…
Is there a wine that won’t give you a hangover?
The short answer is yes. Certain red wines are less likely to give you a hangover based on both chemical properties and the psychology of how we consume them. Given the ideal red wine, there is one more major factor that will help you avoid a wine hangover
With every glass of wine, drink a glass of water.
Wines That Won’t Hurt You as Bad
When looking for a wine that is less likely to give you a hangover, pay attention to these characteristics.
- Dry Reds with Lower Alcohol– 12.5-13.5%
- Moderate Tannins. Such as Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Mourvedre.
- Spend a little more. Bulk wines and flavored wines tend to have more wine additives.
Such as ‘Pruno’ Tempranillo. Less extracted wines that are less sensitive; requiring less additives.
Wines with higher tannin such as Travaglini Gattinara made with Nebbiolo will encourage you to drink more water.
A wine with less alcohol like Beaujolais will reduce ethanol consumption per drink. Look for wines under 13% ABV
Major causes of a wine hangover
There is one major organic chemical compound in wine, beer and other spirits that has been shown to increase the occurences of severe hangovers. The chemical, Acetaldehyde, is a byproduct your body produces while metabolizing ethanol. Liquor with higher levels of Acetaldehyde (considered a wine fault) have been shown to cause a more severe hangover.
Red wine has lowest levels of Acetaldehyde.
Our noses are able to detect Acetaldehyde levels above 125 mg/L as a fruity, sour green apple aroma. Wines with high levels of this chemical include Sherry, Brandy and some sweet wines. Red wines start at close to 4 mg/L.
The major cause of a wine hangover is dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic that inherently causes hypoglycemia. This is a major factor to the common Red Wine Headache. Doing things like eating food and drinking more water will help avoid a hangover more than your wine selection.
Red wine makes us thirsty.
A higher tannin red wine makes our mouth feel dry and encourages more water drinking. Unlike beer, white wine or Champagne, red wine’s undervalued benefit is that red wine doesn’t quench thirst.
Looking for a low hangover wine?Use this chart to explore over 200 types of wine by style. Look for red wines in the following categories
- Savory Red
- Fruity Red -> Tart Cherry See Chart
What wines have the highest Acetaldehyde Dr. Waterhouse at US Davis
Alcohol effects information How Alcohol Is Metabolized in the Human Body
Tom Cannavan’s Wine Pages on Acetaldehyde and Sherry Aroma
Acetaldehyde on wikipedia