I Want to Drink Red Wine Again
October 17, 2006 1:24 PM   Subscribe

I get migraines from MSG (including many "hidden sources"), meat cured with nitrates, and red wine (I think tannins or sulfites or something). As long as I avoid those triggers, I'm relatively headache-free. However, I really love red wine. I haven't had it for about 4 years, and I miss it. Are there types of wines that are better than others for keeping headaches at bay? Organic or certain types?
posted by abbyladybug to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I do too, as does my mother. I copied the list of low-tannin red wines from this Ask Metafilter question and put it into my PDA and made a little laminated business card for my mom.
posted by k8t at 1:46 PM on October 17, 2006

Make your own! It's really not that hard. There are stores that sell all the ingredients and equipment you'll need. Growing the grapes is the hard part of wine making--the rest is very basic measuring and mixing. You can then exert a good bit of control over the tannin and sulfite levels. If you're in the DC metro area, or near Charlotte, N.C., I can suggest a good shop; otherwise, Google will help you.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:49 PM on October 17, 2006

Try looking for "sulfite free" wine at your local Whole Foods. My mom used to have this exact problem. Sticking with sulfite free wines solved the problem for her.
posted by jesseendahl at 2:46 PM on October 17, 2006

I've heard that the more expensive red wines are less likely to cause red wine headaches. I can't cite a source, nor do I know anything from personal experience. (This was quite the helpful comment, no??)
posted by parilous at 5:12 PM on October 17, 2006

My wife has this same problem and the organic reds are nicer to her head; and even then the less dry organic reds are better than the more dry organic reds.
posted by iurodivii at 5:46 PM on October 17, 2006

i believe tannins and sulphites are naturally part of wine - including the organic ones.

best way to do it is to be scientific about it - buy a dozen bottles (a zinfandel, a pinot noir, something w/out oak, etc.) and have a friend decant and administer.

curious to know what you find out.
posted by kamelhoecker at 7:37 PM on October 17, 2006

Two suggestions -

Let your red wine breathe. Open the bottle and leave it for an hour or two before serving. Exposing the wine to the air will turn the tannin into a sediment that won't reach your glass and helps revive the flavor of the wine. This is also why red wine glasses have wider openings than white wine glasses.

Go to a wine tasting. I have several friends that didn't drink red wine because of the headaches, but would have like to be able to enjoy it. At the tasting, they were able to present this problem and then received recommendations on specific wines to drink.
posted by youngergirl44 at 2:14 AM on October 18, 2006

Tannins and sulphites are, indeed, naturally part of wine, in varying degrees. Many winemakers take steps to maximize their presence, or add extra, to give the wine complexity and to increase its ability to age well. All wines will have some tannins and sulphites, but you can get wines with relatively small amounts (or, again, you can make your own, and control them yourself).
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:20 AM on October 18, 2006

"best way to do it is to be scientific about it - buy a dozen bottles (a zinfandel, a pinot noir, something w/out oak, etc.) and have a friend decant and administer."

Oh NOOO! Can't do that. My migraines tend to last over days and cause vomiting. I want to at least have a VERY educated guess before I start playing with fire!
posted by abbyladybug at 1:56 PM on October 18, 2006

The previous comment about more expensive wines being the way to go rings true for me. I also try to buy from smaller wineries. A olive oil making friend suggested small wineries because (at least here in Australia- and hence the generally terrible Aussie wine you all get in the US) large winemakers tend to add some form of copper to the wine to smooth out the roughness in the cheaper grapes.

I seem to have this problem with a lot of Australian wines, Italian wines are the worst and experience almost no issues at all with the French Reds I've bought here (even the dirt cheap ones).

As far as I've noticed letting wine breath doesn't make a difference but maybe need to do it properly and decant!

I'll be watching this thread with interest.
posted by mule at 5:54 PM on October 18, 2006

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