Will We Soon Know the Cause of ‘Red Wine Headache’?

A new device may be able to detect chemicals in red wine that lead to the dreaded “red wine headache,” according to University of California, Berkeley researchers.

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.

Red wine headache is thought to be caused by two amines called tyramine and histamine, but other potential causes also exist.


The new detector, which is the size of a small suitcase, can analyze a drop of wine and determine its amine levels in five minutes. The researchers are in the process of developing a pocket-sized version that you can take with you to a restaurant to test wine at your table.

Red wine and sake were found to have the highest amine levels, while beer had the lowest, researchers said.

Some experts recommend that those who do experience headaches after drinking red wine avoid amine-rich food and drinks. Aside from headaches, amines can also trigger high blood pressure, heart palpitations and elevated adrenaline levels.



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