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There’s no doubt drinking too much wine will lead to a ferocious headache the next morning, but is the type or even color of the wine you drink a factor in that hangover?
Maybe, according to research conducted by Steve Allsop, director of the National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University in Perth, Australia.
“Some people find that drinks with high levels of congeners make them feel worse. And there is some evidence supporting this,” said Allsop. Congeners give color and flavor to various alcoholic drinks. Drinks high in congeners tend to be darker (like red wine, brandy or whisky).
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Allsop noted astudy that closely examined congeners as a potential factor in the severity of your hangover.
In the study, drinkers participated in two drinking nights: Bourbon or vodka with a placebo the following night, randomized for type and order. After those two nights, people who drank the bourbon (higher in congeners) had worse hangovers.
There are other reasons the color of your wine may lead to different reactions.
“The percentage of alcohol is one factor: White wines usually contain between 9 to 14 percent, like a German Riesling, which has 8 to 9 percent, whereas reds can contain between 12-16 percent,” said Gino Santangelo, sommelier of The Forge, located in Miami Beach.
Also, consider what's really in your wine. "Some cheap wines might have added tannins (compounds in grape skins), or synthetic tannins... which can interfere with serotonin levels and make your hangover feel worse," explained Santangelo. Tannins are typically higher in red wines — so if you're going for a cheaper wine, you might want to choose white.
Another reason to splurge for that $30+ bottle of red? "Less-expensive wines might use oak alternatives, which can sometimes be treated with chemicals to make the wine absorb the oak flavors faster, and that might also aggravate headaches," Santangelo continued.
But is that the whole story? Should sticking to light-colored liquids eliminate our headaches the next day? Not necessarily.
“Some people report that some types of preservatives create a reaction, but the science about this is limited given the relatively low levels of preservatives in most alcohol — but this might be an argument to keep an eye on,” said Allsop. You can find an affordable organic wine, without the preservatives, by visiting a spot like Whole Foods, where they have a huge variety of organic options for under $20 a bottle.
You may also want to consider the potential allergens or sensitivities within. “There may be a reaction to histamines...which might be more present in red wine than in white wine. Again, learn from experience and don’t put a reaction down to histamines if you have drunk a lot of alcohol — it’s probably just how much you drank!” said Allsop.
If you are sensitive to histamines, you may want to try filtering them out with a product such as PureWine’s The Wand, which you can place in your glass of wine (of any color) and remove sulfites and histamines.
Sadly, there is no single cause and the first question should be: Did I drink a lot? Should I drink less? If you're feeling this way, it’s your body’s way of saying hold up, you are drinking too much, you might be doing some damage.
“Despite all the commentary above, the key thing is how much you drink. One or two glasses of red wine are unlikely to make you have an adverse reaction in terms of hangover effects, but ten glasses of white will!” said Allsop.