Red Wine Blues

December 2, 2007

I am one, among many apparently, who have had to give up drinking red wine because it gives me a headache. I can avoid that mostly by sticking to organic red wine, and just having one glass, but scientists at the University of California have developed a new device may be able to detect the chemicals in red wine that lead to the dreaded post-red headache.

The chemicals are called biogenic amines, and they’re found in a variety of fermented foods including wine, cheese, olives, nuts, cured meats and chocolate. The specific red wine headache is thought to be caused by two amines called tyramine and histamine, but other potential causes also exist. Red wine and sake were found to have the highest amine levels so if they are your tipple of choice then a sensible interim solution if you are susceptible to such headaches, is to avoid amine-rich food and drinks because, aside from headaches, amines can also trigger high blood pressure, heart palpitations and elevated adrenaline levels. None of which are desirable drinking companions.

The new detector, which is the size of a small suitcase, can analyse a drop of wine and determine its amine levels in five minutes. Don’t worry, they know how ridiculous you would look lugging a suitcase along to a restaurant or dinner party, so they are now in the process of developing a pocket-sized version that you can take with you. Quite how your hosts- or the sommelier – would react is another matter as my experience has been that is the very cheapest wines that have the highest number of chemicals.

Only a scientist wouldn’t think this through to the end-user stage but they could always develop a tiny first aid kit to cope with the reaction to your using it!


Article by  


What do you think of this health article by ? Join the discussion...