The Guide to Wine Hangovers

Ever wake up after a night of drinking feeling like your skull was cracked open with Labrys, the great axe of the storm-god Zeus? We’ve all been there. But whatever you do, don’t reach for the hair-of-the-dog Bloody Mary. This will only delay the inevitable. Instead, dim the lights and scarf down that greasy burger – we’re talking about wine hangovers.

What is it about our beloved wine that causes us such pain when we have one or eight too many?

  • Congeners – Congeners are components and impurities that develop during the fermentation process of winemaking. While they sound scary, they contribute color, texture, aromas, and flavors to wine and include tannins, esters, fusel oil, and various alcohols. They make wine delicious! Congeners are usually associated with darker colored beverages like red wine and may be contributing to the strength of your hangover.


  • Carbon dioxide – It’s not your imagination that when you drink sparkling wine, you feel that buzz come on faster. This is because carbon dioxide (a colorless and odorless gas that is a natural byproduct of fermentation) helps your body absorb alcohol more quickly. In Champagne and other sparklers, it is dissolved into the wine itself, giving us the bubbles we love and the headache we dread.


  • Histamines – Histamines in wine come from the yeasts and bacteria necessary for the fermentation process to take place. For those of us with various allergies, we know exactly what histamines do. They cause inflammation, sneezing, sinus pressure, itchy eyes, and headaches, among other things. Red wines have higher levels of histamines than white wines, so if you experience histamine intolerance, that glass of red might make you feel just as crappy as those beautiful, pollen-laden flowers that Karen from Finance insists on keeping on her desk.


  • Sulfites – Sulfites are often misunderstood when it comes to wine. There are plenty of people quick to jump on the “I’m allergic to sulfites” bandwagon and assume that sulfites are what cause them to feel lousy after drinking (often red) wine – but we’re looking at you, histamines. If you’ve ever taken certain antibiotics, eaten bacon, or snacked on dried fruits without any problems, spoiler alert: you’re probably not allergic to sulfites. In fact, sulfites are a natural byproduct of fermentation and white wines contain higher levels of sulfites than red wines. Sulfites keep your wine fresh and tasty – they are not giving you headaches unless you know for sure that you have a sulfite sensitivity. In that case, that dried apricot you’re about to eat will wreak much more havoc than that glass of red wine. So leave sulfites alone, alright?

While we can certainly blame everything on this list for our nastiest hangovers, it’s the alcohol in wine that’s the real culprit. These components might help your body absorb alcohol faster or make your headache a little more severe, but if you’re overindulging, the wrath of the hangover gods is inescapable. So should we reach for non-alcoholic wine? Absolutely not. That stuff is gross.

Don’t worry, wine. We won’t quit you. Grab your own bottle (and try to avoid that dreaded wine hangover) by browsing our online wine store today. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *