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Alcohol and Health

Does Wine Give You a Hangover and How To Cure It?

Published:
January 31, 2024
·
19 min read
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Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
January 31, 2024
·
19 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
January 31, 2024
·
19 min read
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
January 31, 2024
·
19 min read
Reframe App LogoReframe App Logo
Reframe Content Team
January 31, 2024
·
19 min read

A Closer Look at Wine Hangovers: Getting Rid of Them for Good

  • Hate the feeling of a pounding headache, exhaustion, and nausea after a night of drinking? A glass of your unassuming vino may be to blame. 
  • Fortunately, there are tested remedies to help cure wine hangovers and several ways to prevent those undesirable symptoms. 
  • Reframe’s science-based program helps you cut back on drinking so you can cut out those wine hangovers for good.

Whether pairing a glass of wine with your favorite meal or popping a bottle of bubbly to celebrate, wine seems ever-present on special occasions. Sipping a glass of vino might feel enjoyable at the moment, but the next day is an entirely different story. Have you ever found yourself feeling less than stellar after a few glasses? Wine hangovers are no joke! 

Let’s look at the science behind what causes a wine hangover to help us understand why our favorite cabernet leaves us feeling awful the next day. We’ll also explore different remedies to cure wine hangover symptoms — and maybe even avoid them altogether!

Causes of Wine Hangovers

A tired women looking at a wine glass

To effectively prevent and manage wine hangovers, it’s helpful to understand what causes them. 

As alcohol moves through our digestive system, it’s broken down into acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is a toxic, carcinogenic compound, and it’s the culprit behind those nasty hangover symptoms we feel after drinking. Higher levels of acetaldehyde cause more significant hangover symptoms, which is why the more we drink, the worse we feel the next day.

It’s kind of like spoiled milk. If you accidentally take a sip, you may feel a bit queasy. However, if you drink a whole glass, you’ll experience much more than an unsettled stomach.

Any sort of alcoholic drink can cause a hangover, but wine takes things an extra step. In addition to alcohol, wine contains compounds and additives that contribute to even worse hangover symptoms.

Why Is a Wine Hangover Worse?

Many of us compare wine to grape juice, which makes it seem like a healthier alcoholic option than others. However, certain additives from the fermentation process can induce even worse hangover experiences. Let’s take a look at a few:

  • Sugar. Sugar is a common additive in wine. It enhances the fruity flavor and makes it more palatable but also amplifies hangover symptoms. Our body requires a considerable amount of water to break down sugar, depleting our hydration reserves on top of alcohol’s diuretic effect. Dehydration is a top contributor to the classic hangover headache.
  • Histamines. Histamines are our body’s security guards. They warn us that something dangerous has entered our body by producing an allergic reaction. Wine contains plenty of histamines, some of which come from the grapes, and some of which are a result of the fermentation process. The histamines found in wine can trigger an immune response that releases additional histamines and produces uncomfortable allergy symptoms. 
  • Sulfites. Sulfites are a byproduct of the yeast used in wine’s fermentation process. Sulfites aid in preservation and contribute to the color and taste of wine as it ages. Most people can handle sulfites with no issues, but some experience negative reactions similar to common hangover symptoms.
  • Congeners. Congeners are natural chemicals produced during the fermentation process. They’re present in all alcoholic beverages, but are found in higher amounts in wine due to compounds called tannins found in grapes. Congeners play a significant role in improving taste, but they also contribute to wine hangovers.

Other Factors Leading to Wine Hangovers

The culture around wine also enhances the likelihood and severity of a wine hangover. We may not be able to exert much control over wine culture, but learning more about the different variables helps us disengage from them and consume more mindfully.

  • Alcohol by volume (ABV). ABV is a measure of the alcohol content in a given drink. The ABV of wine can range from 11-13%, whereas the average 12-ounce can of beer typically contains about 5%. This means that we get more intoxicated from wine than we do from the same volume of beer.
  • Serving size. One standard serving of wine is about 5 ounces. A standard wine glass has a capacity of 12 to 16 ounces, and some specialty glasses (like Burgundy and Bordeaux glasses) can usually hold an entire bottle of wine. It’s easy to overpour and end up with more than a serving size.
  • Drinking speed. A 5-ounce serving of wine contains about the same amount of alcohol as a 12-ounce can of beer. This smaller volume means we can drink wine more quickly. When we drink faster than our body can metabolize alcohol, we end up with a buildup of acetaldehyde — a significant player in hangover symptoms.
  • Peer pressure. Our social environment plays a major role in excessive alcohol use. Whether it’s peer pressure or someone insisting on topping off our half-empty glass, social environments often inspire us to drink more than we planned.
  • Expectations. Research shows our perception of our own intoxication is influenced by the preconceived notions we have about the type of alcohol we’re drinking. We’ve all heard the term "wine drunk," which suggests that the effects of wine differ from those of other liquors. There’s no science backing this claim, but this expectation may explain why people report feeling differently when drinking wine.

When all these factors come together and influence us to overindulge, we know what happens next: the dreaded morning-after wine hangover.

Common Symptoms of Wine Hangovers

Symptoms of wine hangovers vary between individuals, but there are a few common themes:

  • Nausea. An upset stomach is one of the most common symptoms of a wine hangover. Nausea is a response to the toxic compounds in our body (alcohol and acetaldehyde). Our stomach feels unsettled as our body processes the toxins. Nausea could also be a response to any poor food choices we made while intoxicated. 
  • Fatigue. Wine may have us feeling like a social butterfly in the moment and a couch potato the morning after. Alcohol negatively impacts our sleep quality, leaving us feeling drained and fatigued. After a night of socializing, restorative rest is crucial.
  • Headache. Wine hangovers are notorious for causing headaches. Wine headaches — particularly those from red wine — are more severe than other alcohol-induced headaches thanks to wine’s high levels of sulfites and congeners.
  • Sensitivity to light and sound. Alcohol triggers the release of a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which eventually rebounds and dips below baseline — resulting in sensitivity to light and sound. This sensitivity aggravates other symptoms, especially headaches.
  • Dehydration. Alcohol’s diuretic properties send us running to the bathroom all night. This leads to dehydration, which worsens other wine hangover symptoms. While some alcoholic beverages are served with mixers, ice, or soda water, wine is consumed as-is, which dehydrates us if we don’t intentionally supplement with water.

Do Different Wines Create Different Hangovers?

Some vino virtuosos claim that wine produces a different intoxication experience than other alcoholic beverages. You may be wondering: is wine drunk different? There’s no evidence to back up the claim that drinking wine produces different intoxication effects. Still, there is some evidence that various types of alcohol produce different kinds of hangovers — and we can apply the same principles to wine.

White, sparkling, and rosé wines contain fewer headache-inducing congeners than red wines and tend to have a lower alcohol concentration. Red wines originate from sweeter grapes harvested later in the season, which are responsible for the generally higher alcohol content and higher levels of congeners in red wines.

How Much Wine Causes a Hangover?

We may try to avoid a wine hangover by finding the limit of what “too much wine” looks like. The amount of wine needed to feel drunk depends on a large number of factors, and individual sensitivities mean some of us get wine hangovers from small amounts while others rarely experience them.

For the average person, 2-3 glasses of wine is more than enough to raise blood alcohol levels beyond the legal driving limit. However, this level of drinking is verging on excessive, especially if this amount of wine is a daily habit. Remember that 2-3 glasses is about half a bottle of wine, and exceeds the recommended limit of “safe” drinking, so we shouldn’t use it as a guideline for intake. The social nature of wine makes it easy to pour glass after glass as long as the gathering continues — until the end of the night when we realize we’ve had too much. Determining our tolerance and practicing moderation is essential to prevent wine hangovers and their unpleasant symptoms.

How To Cure a Wine Hangover

Unfortunately, there is no magic wine hangover cure, but there are tools to help relieve some symptoms.

  • Stay hydrated. Replenishing our body with plenty of fluids helps flush out toxins and combat symptoms of dehydration. Along with water, electrolyte-rich drinks restore hydration and replenish essential minerals depleted by alcohol metabolism. Hydration is especially important for avoiding wine headaches.
  • Get adequate rest. We most likely missed out on a night of restorative sleep thanks to alcohol’s negative impact on sleep patterns. Rest is an effective wine hangover cure as it allows our body to repair itself.
  • Take medication. Over-the-counter medications such as pain relievers and antacids help relieve some unpleasant symptoms. But keep in mind that pain medications cause other side effects (like stomach and liver damage) and should not be taken regularly. 
  • Try natural remedies. People swear by a wide variety of natural remedies as hangover cures, most of which have little evidence to support their effectiveness. Some natural remedies proven to work include ginger for nausea and coconut water for extra electrolytes.

​​It’s important to remember that these tips are temporary solutions. By making mindful choices and practicing moderation, we avoid wine hangovers altogether and save ourselves from considerable discomfort.

Common Symptoms of Wine Hangovers

Effective Ways To Avoid Wine Hangovers

Why treat a wine hangover when we can avoid one altogether? Let’s look at some effective strategies to minimize the miserable aftermath of a night of wine drinking. 

  • Practice moderation. Know your own tolerances and set a limit for yourself. This can be difficult, but asking for support from someone you trust can strengthen your resolve and keep you accountable. 
  • Prioritize hydration. Drinking plenty of water prevents dehydration and slows down the automatic top-offs. Consider alternating between a glass of wine and a glass of water, and being open about your desire to stay hydrated.
  • Remember your health goals. Are you trying to lose weight? Improve your skin? Improve your mental health? Remind yourself of your health goals and stay informed about how excessive drinking holds you back from achieving them.
  • Make mindful choices. You can enjoy a worry-free glass of wine by being mindful of your choices. If you experience wine hangovers, go for lighter wines or ones with a lower alcohol content. Sip slowly and savor the flavor. A mindful wine pairing with a good meal enhances the wine-drinking experience and makes even small servings feel more meaningful.

With moderation, mindfulness, and a strong sense of priorities, we can find a place for wine in our life and avoid the consequences of the next day. When we have a healthy relationship with alcohol, we prioritize our health and don’t let the allure of booze overpower the adverse effects it has on our body. If your relationship with alcohol is interfering with your well-being, consider joining Reframe to start changing how you drink.

Summing Up

You’re not imagining things — wine hangovers are unique and come with a host of uncomfortable symptoms. While there are some effective ways to provide relief during the aftermath, the better option is to avoid them altogether. By making thoughtful choices and developing a plan for responsible drinking, we can raise a glass without increasing the risk of a wine hangover.

Whether pairing a glass of wine with your favorite meal or popping a bottle of bubbly to celebrate, wine seems ever-present on special occasions. Sipping a glass of vino might feel enjoyable at the moment, but the next day is an entirely different story. Have you ever found yourself feeling less than stellar after a few glasses? Wine hangovers are no joke! 

Let’s look at the science behind what causes a wine hangover to help us understand why our favorite cabernet leaves us feeling awful the next day. We’ll also explore different remedies to cure wine hangover symptoms — and maybe even avoid them altogether!

Causes of Wine Hangovers

A tired women looking at a wine glass

To effectively prevent and manage wine hangovers, it’s helpful to understand what causes them. 

As alcohol moves through our digestive system, it’s broken down into acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is a toxic, carcinogenic compound, and it’s the culprit behind those nasty hangover symptoms we feel after drinking. Higher levels of acetaldehyde cause more significant hangover symptoms, which is why the more we drink, the worse we feel the next day.

It’s kind of like spoiled milk. If you accidentally take a sip, you may feel a bit queasy. However, if you drink a whole glass, you’ll experience much more than an unsettled stomach.

Any sort of alcoholic drink can cause a hangover, but wine takes things an extra step. In addition to alcohol, wine contains compounds and additives that contribute to even worse hangover symptoms.

Why Is a Wine Hangover Worse?

Many of us compare wine to grape juice, which makes it seem like a healthier alcoholic option than others. However, certain additives from the fermentation process can induce even worse hangover experiences. Let’s take a look at a few:

  • Sugar. Sugar is a common additive in wine. It enhances the fruity flavor and makes it more palatable but also amplifies hangover symptoms. Our body requires a considerable amount of water to break down sugar, depleting our hydration reserves on top of alcohol’s diuretic effect. Dehydration is a top contributor to the classic hangover headache.
  • Histamines. Histamines are our body’s security guards. They warn us that something dangerous has entered our body by producing an allergic reaction. Wine contains plenty of histamines, some of which come from the grapes, and some of which are a result of the fermentation process. The histamines found in wine can trigger an immune response that releases additional histamines and produces uncomfortable allergy symptoms. 
  • Sulfites. Sulfites are a byproduct of the yeast used in wine’s fermentation process. Sulfites aid in preservation and contribute to the color and taste of wine as it ages. Most people can handle sulfites with no issues, but some experience negative reactions similar to common hangover symptoms.
  • Congeners. Congeners are natural chemicals produced during the fermentation process. They’re present in all alcoholic beverages, but are found in higher amounts in wine due to compounds called tannins found in grapes. Congeners play a significant role in improving taste, but they also contribute to wine hangovers.

Other Factors Leading to Wine Hangovers

The culture around wine also enhances the likelihood and severity of a wine hangover. We may not be able to exert much control over wine culture, but learning more about the different variables helps us disengage from them and consume more mindfully.

  • Alcohol by volume (ABV). ABV is a measure of the alcohol content in a given drink. The ABV of wine can range from 11-13%, whereas the average 12-ounce can of beer typically contains about 5%. This means that we get more intoxicated from wine than we do from the same volume of beer.
  • Serving size. One standard serving of wine is about 5 ounces. A standard wine glass has a capacity of 12 to 16 ounces, and some specialty glasses (like Burgundy and Bordeaux glasses) can usually hold an entire bottle of wine. It’s easy to overpour and end up with more than a serving size.
  • Drinking speed. A 5-ounce serving of wine contains about the same amount of alcohol as a 12-ounce can of beer. This smaller volume means we can drink wine more quickly. When we drink faster than our body can metabolize alcohol, we end up with a buildup of acetaldehyde — a significant player in hangover symptoms.
  • Peer pressure. Our social environment plays a major role in excessive alcohol use. Whether it’s peer pressure or someone insisting on topping off our half-empty glass, social environments often inspire us to drink more than we planned.
  • Expectations. Research shows our perception of our own intoxication is influenced by the preconceived notions we have about the type of alcohol we’re drinking. We’ve all heard the term "wine drunk," which suggests that the effects of wine differ from those of other liquors. There’s no science backing this claim, but this expectation may explain why people report feeling differently when drinking wine.

When all these factors come together and influence us to overindulge, we know what happens next: the dreaded morning-after wine hangover.

Common Symptoms of Wine Hangovers

Symptoms of wine hangovers vary between individuals, but there are a few common themes:

  • Nausea. An upset stomach is one of the most common symptoms of a wine hangover. Nausea is a response to the toxic compounds in our body (alcohol and acetaldehyde). Our stomach feels unsettled as our body processes the toxins. Nausea could also be a response to any poor food choices we made while intoxicated. 
  • Fatigue. Wine may have us feeling like a social butterfly in the moment and a couch potato the morning after. Alcohol negatively impacts our sleep quality, leaving us feeling drained and fatigued. After a night of socializing, restorative rest is crucial.
  • Headache. Wine hangovers are notorious for causing headaches. Wine headaches — particularly those from red wine — are more severe than other alcohol-induced headaches thanks to wine’s high levels of sulfites and congeners.
  • Sensitivity to light and sound. Alcohol triggers the release of a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which eventually rebounds and dips below baseline — resulting in sensitivity to light and sound. This sensitivity aggravates other symptoms, especially headaches.
  • Dehydration. Alcohol’s diuretic properties send us running to the bathroom all night. This leads to dehydration, which worsens other wine hangover symptoms. While some alcoholic beverages are served with mixers, ice, or soda water, wine is consumed as-is, which dehydrates us if we don’t intentionally supplement with water.

Do Different Wines Create Different Hangovers?

Some vino virtuosos claim that wine produces a different intoxication experience than other alcoholic beverages. You may be wondering: is wine drunk different? There’s no evidence to back up the claim that drinking wine produces different intoxication effects. Still, there is some evidence that various types of alcohol produce different kinds of hangovers — and we can apply the same principles to wine.

White, sparkling, and rosé wines contain fewer headache-inducing congeners than red wines and tend to have a lower alcohol concentration. Red wines originate from sweeter grapes harvested later in the season, which are responsible for the generally higher alcohol content and higher levels of congeners in red wines.

How Much Wine Causes a Hangover?

We may try to avoid a wine hangover by finding the limit of what “too much wine” looks like. The amount of wine needed to feel drunk depends on a large number of factors, and individual sensitivities mean some of us get wine hangovers from small amounts while others rarely experience them.

For the average person, 2-3 glasses of wine is more than enough to raise blood alcohol levels beyond the legal driving limit. However, this level of drinking is verging on excessive, especially if this amount of wine is a daily habit. Remember that 2-3 glasses is about half a bottle of wine, and exceeds the recommended limit of “safe” drinking, so we shouldn’t use it as a guideline for intake. The social nature of wine makes it easy to pour glass after glass as long as the gathering continues — until the end of the night when we realize we’ve had too much. Determining our tolerance and practicing moderation is essential to prevent wine hangovers and their unpleasant symptoms.

How To Cure a Wine Hangover

Unfortunately, there is no magic wine hangover cure, but there are tools to help relieve some symptoms.

  • Stay hydrated. Replenishing our body with plenty of fluids helps flush out toxins and combat symptoms of dehydration. Along with water, electrolyte-rich drinks restore hydration and replenish essential minerals depleted by alcohol metabolism. Hydration is especially important for avoiding wine headaches.
  • Get adequate rest. We most likely missed out on a night of restorative sleep thanks to alcohol’s negative impact on sleep patterns. Rest is an effective wine hangover cure as it allows our body to repair itself.
  • Take medication. Over-the-counter medications such as pain relievers and antacids help relieve some unpleasant symptoms. But keep in mind that pain medications cause other side effects (like stomach and liver damage) and should not be taken regularly. 
  • Try natural remedies. People swear by a wide variety of natural remedies as hangover cures, most of which have little evidence to support their effectiveness. Some natural remedies proven to work include ginger for nausea and coconut water for extra electrolytes.

​​It’s important to remember that these tips are temporary solutions. By making mindful choices and practicing moderation, we avoid wine hangovers altogether and save ourselves from considerable discomfort.

Common Symptoms of Wine Hangovers

Effective Ways To Avoid Wine Hangovers

Why treat a wine hangover when we can avoid one altogether? Let’s look at some effective strategies to minimize the miserable aftermath of a night of wine drinking. 

  • Practice moderation. Know your own tolerances and set a limit for yourself. This can be difficult, but asking for support from someone you trust can strengthen your resolve and keep you accountable. 
  • Prioritize hydration. Drinking plenty of water prevents dehydration and slows down the automatic top-offs. Consider alternating between a glass of wine and a glass of water, and being open about your desire to stay hydrated.
  • Remember your health goals. Are you trying to lose weight? Improve your skin? Improve your mental health? Remind yourself of your health goals and stay informed about how excessive drinking holds you back from achieving them.
  • Make mindful choices. You can enjoy a worry-free glass of wine by being mindful of your choices. If you experience wine hangovers, go for lighter wines or ones with a lower alcohol content. Sip slowly and savor the flavor. A mindful wine pairing with a good meal enhances the wine-drinking experience and makes even small servings feel more meaningful.

With moderation, mindfulness, and a strong sense of priorities, we can find a place for wine in our life and avoid the consequences of the next day. When we have a healthy relationship with alcohol, we prioritize our health and don’t let the allure of booze overpower the adverse effects it has on our body. If your relationship with alcohol is interfering with your well-being, consider joining Reframe to start changing how you drink.

Summing Up

You’re not imagining things — wine hangovers are unique and come with a host of uncomfortable symptoms. While there are some effective ways to provide relief during the aftermath, the better option is to avoid them altogether. By making thoughtful choices and developing a plan for responsible drinking, we can raise a glass without increasing the risk of a wine hangover.

Summary FAQs

1. Does wine give you a hangover?

Yes, wine contains the same compounds found in any other alcoholic beverage. These specific compounds are what cause the feeling of a hangover.

2. What makes a wine hangover worse than others?

Specific additives found in wine and the effects of the fermentation process produce increased hangover symptoms.

3. Is wine drunk different?

Wine affects the body in the same way that any other alcohol does. Some explanations for why some people feel different when drinking wine include their expectations and the environment they’re drinking in.

4. Is there a cure for wine hangovers?

Rest and hydration help, but time is the best medicine.

5. Is there a cure for wine headaches?

The primary steps to get rid of a wine headache involve treating the underlying causes of the symptoms. Over-the-counter pain medications treat aches and pains, but resolving dehydration is better. Try electrolyte pouches or natural drinks like coconut water to replenish essential minerals.

6. What wine causes the worst hangovers?

Wines with a high alcohol content and those high in additives cause greater hangover symptoms. For these reasons, red wine is infamous for causing throbbing headaches and other excruciating symptoms.

Ready To Kick Wine Hangovers to the Curb? Reframe Is Here For You!

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help us cut back on drinking gradually with science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills to survive drinking less and thrive while navigating the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet hundreds of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re constantly introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol.

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today!

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