While there’s no such thing as a goodhangover, there are definitely really, really bad ones. Usually the pounding headache, upset stomach and general malaise is warranted after a night of excess drinking, but some days you’re left wondering how you could possibly feel this terrible, especially after a fairly tame evening. Aside from blaming it on your age, many times these unexpected mornings are due to one main culprit: wine.
Whether you’re a red girl, a white girl or a rosé all day type of girl, wine is one of the most popular types of acholic beverages — and Americans are drinking more of it than ever before. Unlike tequila or vodka which are typically reserved for a night out, it’s commonplace to have wine during the week. However, if that glass turns into two or three, you run the risk of waking up on the groggy side of the bed. And wine hangovers are pretty brutal.
Along with the common factors of a hangover – dehydration and the depletion of vitamins – wine has its own hangover-inducing qualities as well. This is partly due to the fact that some red wines have higher levels of congeners (a toxic byproduct of fermented alcohol). But it also has to do with things like sugar and sulfites. Obviously, the only way not to get a hangover is to drink in moderation, or not at all, but there are a few tricks to minimizing wine’s side effects next time you uncork a bottle. Below find five tips from Aylin Doker, wine expert and owner of VieVité Côtes de Provence.
Your mother was right: You really shouldn’t drink on an empty stomach. “Eat a full dinner with some carbohydrates and protein,” advises Doker. “I see people all the time who eat a light salad or skip dinner altogether when they drink wine, because they don't want to take on the extra calories. That's a big mistake.” She recommends eating a healthy meal with proteins and veggies since it slows down the alcohol’s absorption rate. “Avoid spicy and acidic foods, too,” she continues. “When paired with a few glasses of wine, these foods are almost guaranteed to give you a stomachache the next morning.”
Remember less is more
We’re not just talking about the amount of glasses you consume either. A good way to prevent a hangover is to look for wines with a lower ABV (alcohol by volume) level and less sugar. “For ABV, aim for 13 percent or less,” says Doker. “When you get into 14 and 15 percent ABV, it can really make a difference in the way you feel the next day.”
In terms of sugar content, many cheaper bottles of wine can have higher amounts of it even if it doesn’t taste that way. That’s why Doker suggests spending a little more on a bottle and paying attention to the region it comes from. “I always opt for France, compared to, say, California wines. The French maintain stricter standards, which control the level of sugar that is allowed to be added to wines and so they tend to be drier,” she explains. “For the sake of comparison, French rosé must have no more than four grams of sugar per liter of wine, where some California wines can be up to twenty!”
If you’re an avid wine drinker, then you’ve likely heard of sulfites and their association with bad headaches. Sulfites occur naturally in vino (more so in red varieties) and occasionally, they’re added into bottles to extend shelf-life thanks to their preservation-boosting properties. While it helps to avoid wine that boasts a high-levels of sulfites, Doker says they’re not always to blame for a throbbing forehead: “It should be noted that sulfites don't necessarily cause hangovers, but can sometimes cause reactions including itchy skin and stomachaches, which can obviously make the effects of a hangover even more uncomfortable,” she explains.
Unfortunately, wineries are not required to disclose sulfite-level, but according to Doker, a good rule of thumb is to buy wine that’s been certified organic. “They are required to maintain stricter standards and will have significantly fewer added sulfites,” she says. “Personally, I always opt for my VieVité Rosé, since it’s low in sugar, low in sulfites, and an ABV of 13 percent, so I still feel fresh the morning after I drink a few glasses.”
Read the label
Beyond looking for low levels of ABV, sugar, and sulfites, if you want to avoid a wine hangover, it’s important to see how the grapes are categorized on the bottle. “If a red wine is a ‘blend’ but doesn't list the grapes used in the blend, that's a red flag,” says Doker. “Same with a region. If a label says the wine is from a country or state but doesn't tie the wine to a specific location or appellation, it's likely to be wine that is mass-produced with more added sugar and more added sulfites.”
No matter what you’re drinking, remember that water is always your friend. Besides for sipping on H2O between glasses of wine, plan ahead. “If you know you're going drinking wine later in the evening, drink a couple extra glasses of water throughout the day to make sure you are extra hydrated. You'll definitely feel the difference,” suggest Doker. The same goes for the next morning, too. “The faster you can hydrate and get your blood sugar back to normal, the better you'll feel. If you can, incorporate some juicy fruit, like an orange or grapefruit, intro your breakfast; the vitamins and extra hydration will also help kick the hangover faster,” she adds.
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