Wines Least Likely to Give You a Hangover

wine hangover character, a comic of regret

The Dreaded Wine Hangover

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.

 

  • finca villacreces pruno ribera del duero Spanish Tempranillo

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    Medium Bodied

    Such as ‘Pruno’ Tempranillo. Less extracted wines that are less sensitive, requiring fewer additives.

  • deloach-2011-pinot-noir-heritage-reserve

    Less Manipulated

    Wineries that focus on less manipulation, such as Deloach, cannot hide hangover-giving wine faults like Acetaldehyde.

  • Travaglini Gattinara Nebbiolo based wine

    Moderate Tannin

    Wines with higher tannin such as Travaglini Gattinara made with Nebbiolo will encourage you to drink more water.

  • Domaine-Vincent-Girardin-Moulin-a-Vent-Domaine-de-la-Tour-du-Bief-2009

    Lower Alcohol

    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

Toxic Chemicals

There is one major organic chemical compound in wine, beer, and other spirits, that can 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) has been shown to cause a more severe hangover.

Red wine has the lowest levels of Acetaldehyde.

Our noses can 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.

Aren’t sulfites and tannin bad? Find out how sulfites in wine are not the real problem.

Dehydration

The major cause of a wine hangover is dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic that inherently causes hypoglycemia. This is a major factor in 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.
 

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About Madeline Puckette

James Beard Award-winning author and Wine Communicator of the Year. I co-founded Wine Folly to help people learn about wine. @WineFolly