Talking to friends about wines sometimes I hear: „I don’t drink Rosé because I get headaches.“ The question to ask in these cases: „What Rosé did you drink and how much of it?“
Let’s get to the base of the question: Why do we get headaches from certain wines?
One easy answer could be: “Because you drank too much…”
As we all know, too much alcohol is bad for you. Over indulging can give you a hangover and therefor a headache. Rosé wines can have pretty high alcohol percentages. We drink it preferably chilled in sunny weather… it can be easy to miss your limits.
If you got a headache from just a glass or two, the reason might be a different one.
There is a medical term called “Red Wine Headache”. Recent research result found the cause of this kind of headache in histamines. The histamines get into the wine from the grape skins. Rosé wine, which is made without the skins, (only has short contact with the grape skins) has far fewer histamines in it than red wine. So if you are allergic to histamines or your body can’t process them that well you will get headaches much more often from red wine than from Rosé.
Another reason for potential headaches are congeners. Congeners are substances that are produced during fermentation as a side product besides the ethanol alcohol. These substances include small amounts of chemicals such as methanol and fusel alcohols like acetone, acetaldehyde, esters, tannins, and aldehydes. The general rule here is: the darker the alcohol, the more Congeners. Whisky, Rum but also Red Wine has more Congeners than Gin or Vodka for example.
But these fusel alcohols also come with low quality ingredients. The more sugar in a drink or wine the more fusel alcohols. The more rotten grapes used in the wine, again the more fusel alcohols. This is actually a very important part! The grapes for high quality wines usually get harvested by hand and later selected by hand again. For lower quality wines the harvest is done with machines and also the selection process is done by machines. That way the chance of green grapes or foul ones is significantly higher.
To get a high yield of the harvest sometimes the wine maker closes and eye or two and a certain amount of bad quality grapes are tolerated by the producer. But that’s not what we would like to drink…
Let's set the record straight. Just because something is inexpensive, that's doesn't necessarily mean it's bad or low quality. There are great wines that are very affordable. But the chances are just higher that if you buy a cheaper wine the used grapes are lower quality and therefor contain more fusel alcohols.
If your standard red buy is above 10 Euros a bottle we recommend the same for your Rosé pick.
Rosé wines the same as red and white wine have huge differences in quality and for a well-made wine we recommend to invest at least 7 Euros. My recommendations for two great affordable wines are Figuière Mediterranée Rosé and Château d'Or et de Gueules - A Boire Rosé BIO.