Studies suggest that in individuals prone to migraine attacks, red wine may trigger headaches and migraine attacks in less than 1/3 of the cases.
The idea of migraine attacks triggered by food and beverages (red wine in particular) has been disseminated for centuries. Physicians from the Headache Centre of Rio de Janeiro carried out a literature review from the last 30 years on wine and headache. In addition, available technical literature and websites about wine, grapes, and wine making were also evaluated. They found that full papers, specifically on headache and wine, are scarce and scientific rigor is typically lacking. The few studies on wine and headache were mostly presented as abstracts despite the common knowledge and patients’ complaints about wine ingestion and headache attacks. These studies suggested that red wine, but not white and sparkling wines, can trigger headaches and migraine attacks in migraineurs (individuals prone to migraine attacks), independently of dosage in less than 30% of the subjects. The reasons for the triggering potential are uncertain, but the presence of phenolic flavonoid radicals and the potential for interfering with the central serotonin metabolism are probably the underlying mechanisms of the relationship between wine and headache. The authors concluded the methodology of most of the reviewed studies and the analysis of the available literature does not allow definite conclusions regarding the role of wine in headache. They believe that red wine can be a trigger in some individuals but further controlled studies are necessary to enlighten this traditional belief.
Krymchantowski AV, da Cunha Jevoux C. Headache. 2014 Jun;54(6):967-75.
For more information about this article, read the scientific abstract here.