What causes red wine headaches? Experts finally discover why people get sore heads after one glass

Couple drinking red wine

Red wine can cause sudden headaches

Sarra Gray

By Sarra Gray

Published: 21/11/2023

- 09:21

Updated: 21/11/2023

- 09:22

Health experts have explained why red wine can quickly bring on headaches

Britons may notice a headache come on when drinking just one or two glasses of red wine.

New research could explain exactly why this happens.

Many people might experience a headache the day after drinking if a hangover hits.

However, this can happen much sooner when drinking red wine in particular.

Woman drinking red wine

Experts have looked into what causes red wine


While lots of things have been suspected of causing this, one compound is to blame, according to research by the Headache Center at the University of California, San Francisco.

The research suggested phenolic flavonoids could be to blame.

These contribute greatly to the taste and colour of wine and are much more prominent in red wine than white.

A flavanol called quercetin was found to be most to blame.

Once processed, this turns into a substance that is known to block enzymes.

The experts explained this blockage can prompt the build up of toxic acetaldehyde which can cause headaches, sickness and flushing.

More people are likely to get this than others, findings published in Scientific Reports stated.

Co-author and professor of neurology and director of the Headache Center, Morris Levin MD said: “When susceptible people consume wine with even modest amounts of quercetin, they develop headaches, particularly if they have a preexisting migraine or another primary headache condition.

Red wine in shop

Red wine can bring on a headache after one or two glasses


“We think we are finally on the right track toward explaining this millennia-old mystery.

"The next step is to test it scientifically on people who develop these headaches, so stay tuned.”

If this is found to be true in further tests, more information could be found on how to prevent this.

Red wine is often considered to have health benefits if taken in moderation.

A doctor shared the supplement they take to stay healthy as they age.

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