Wines for Migraine Sufferers to Still Enjoy. And What to Avoid.

Last Updated on August 1st, 2023

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Migraines are headaches caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, possibly serotonin and the regions of the brain that regulate pain. 

Not much is known about this condition, but symptoms can be triggered by hormonal fluctuations in estrogen, drinking alcohol, stress, strong visual overload (brightness or flashing lights), concussive sounds, and extreme smells caused by items like perfume or strong vinegar and other factors. 

Sufferers speak of crippling visual pain, body chills, phantom smells, and long-lasting headaches. To avoid this unpleasantness, there are a few simple things that a person can do to enjoy wine without a headache. 

Wine is being poured into one of two wine glasses - Wines for Migraine Sufferers.

What wine should you drink if you have migraines?

The best wine to drink when trying to avoid the dreaded red wine headache is to drink white wine. According to the Northern American Mental Health Professional Advice Council, there are at least five types of wines that do not cause headaches:


  • Wines with lower tannins – full-bodied red wines have been known to cause migraines, while during the production process of white wines, the liquids are skimmed to remove the plant matter as they go into the fermentation stage. 


If you cannot give up the red wine, consider the vintages with lower tannin characteristics like a Pinot Noir or an Amarone. 

  • White wines — To remove tannins from the equation, white wines are the best bet. Before reaching fermentation, the liquid is skimmed off all the tannins.
  • Cut the histamines – some headaches can be triggered by the naturally occurring histamines found in wine. Drier wines like Chardonnay will decrease the likelihood of a headache. 
  • Wines low in congeners – These are found in the darker wines, which are substances other than the desired type of alcohol or ethanol created during the fermentation process. 
  • Avoid the tyramine – This is an amino acid that some human digestive systems are unable to break down. These individuals’ headaches are a byproduct of this inability.

What wines to avoid if you suffer from wine migraines?

As listed above, a set of naturally occurring elements in wine is known to cause headaches. Remember to avoid the heavier-bodied red wines, especially ones known to have higher tannin counts. Consider drinking wines that are drier vintages avoiding the sugary labels. 


What wine does not cause migraines?

It is never a guarantee unless you forgo drinking altogether. White wines are your next best bet if vintage is required for the occasion. Red wines are known to trigger migraine because of their high tannin count and various other properties. 


Is it better to drink red wines or white wines if you have migraines?

White wines are the better choice for those that suffer from a migraine condition. Red wines have a reputation for having certain ingredients that cause headaches and therefore trigger migraines. 

A possible compromise for those who enjoy a red flavor might want to consider a Rosé. These have the darker grapes of the red wines but the skimming quality of the white wines. 

Final thoughts on Wines for Migraine Sufferers

To 100% avoid the chance of having a headache, one must give up wine altogether. Otherwise, migraine sufferers should avoid red wines and any vintages outside of that with high tannins. 

White wines and Rosés go through a skimming process that takes the tannins and other migraine-triggering elements out of the wine.