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Why Does Wine Give You A Headache? Is It Because You Drank 10 Glasses Last Night?

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         Views: 1699
2008-06-04 07:23:35     
Article by Jon Farrignton

Almost all wine you buy at your local wine store, even those labeled organic or biodynamic, will have some additives. It 's a common complaint by many a tippler, that they don't drink wine as it gives them a head ache. Apart from the fact that a bottle or more for yourself will do that to you, there is some truth to this commonly rolled out line. From bitter experience, the Wine Blokes all agree that it comes down to the quality (and generally the price) of the wine you are drinking. The main culprit it seems, is the additive Sulphur Dioxide.

Why add Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) to Wine?

SO2 is added to wine for two main (and very important) reasons. SO2 has an anti-microbial and anti-bacterial effect when added to wine. Unwanted yeast and bacteria can cause unpleasant and offensive odours and taste in wine. The other important role it plays is as an anti-oxidant, helping prevent browning and odours similar to old sherry or browning apples.

In short, it is very difficult to make good wine that will last more than a few months without the addition of SO2.

So why do lower quality or cheaper wines seem to create more of an irritating effect and side effects such as headaches. For the most part it is because much more SO2 is added. Generally lower quality grapes are used, such as those that have undergone premature oxidation or have bacterial problems. Consequently, more SO2 is added. A typical example of this is bag in box or "cask" wine. Many of these wines are expected to be opened, and then drunk over a period of time. Bag in box wines generally will be opened and then drunk over a period of weeks, or even months.

There is a balance however that winemakers seek to achieve when adding SO2 to their commercial bottles wines. Yeast are sensitive to too much SO2, and excessive use will hinder the yeasts ability to complete fermentation. White wines such as Chardonnay and most red wines undergo a secondary fermentation called malolactic fermentation, where malic acid is converted to the more appealing lactic acid. The bacteria that is the catalyst for this conversion is extremely sensitive to SO2, and therefore even small amounts in the wine will prevent malo-lactic fermentation.

The ability of SO2 to bind to other molecules also has a further downside. Anthocyanins are the molecules in red wine primarily responsible for colour. SO2 readily binds to these molecules and excessive use of SO2 in red wines will almost certainly result in some change in colour.

Therefore, we at the Wine Blokes have defined a revolutionary solution to the problem of post wine head aches:

1. Drink less than 10 glasses in any one sitting (Sure to provide some relief)

2. Purchase higher quality wine, preferably where you cannot use the packaging as a pillow on the floor of your mates house.

Viola!

Jon Farrington is a partner in http://www.thewineblokes.com/uk-wine-shop

Specialized in: South Australia - White Wine - Bordeaux - Red Wine - Germany - Mosel-saar-ruwer - California - Argentina - Patagonia - South West France - New Zealand - North Island - New South Wales
URL: http://www.thewineblokes.com
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