The other night I had one glass of red wine, which in turn triggered an agonizing migraine that lasted all night and all day yesterday. I've had wine trigger migraines before and it doesn't seem to matter whether it's red or white, young or old; certain wines just affect me badly. I've tried to do research on this online and I've discovered it's a very common, but poorly researched subject (which is surprising considering the wine industry is worth billions). The only culprits I can find are, "It's the sulfites!" or, "It's the histamines!" Neither of them are accurate in my case because if it were sulfites (a preservative) then I would also have a reaction to dried fruit and juice, which are often loaded with sulfites. It can't be histamines (present in fermented grape skin) because then I would have a reaction every time I ate other fermented food like aged cheese and chocolate. The only consistent aspect in the wines that have triggered migraines is that they all have a certain quality I can detect through smell and taste. I can usually tell if they will give me a headache with this testing (although this isn't always a deterrent). I wonder what I am picking up on?
As a result I spent all day yesterday in bed, unable to do much except, well, lay there. The only highlight of my day was a beautiful surprise postcard I received from kiad, which cheered me up immensely. :)
That reminds me that last week I received a package of vanilla Clodhoppers, a Canadian specialty, from jul3z. I'll have to send her an English specialty in return, like crystallized sugared eels or something.
I began feeling better last night so Max bbq'd some merguez in the backyard and we watched Croupier and Almost Famous. I normally would have a beer with my merguez, but the last thing I wanted was alcohol so I stuck to a warming mug of peppermint tea and 2 litres of water.
The weather the last few days has been beautiful and warm, reaching up to 25.5°C (78°F). I need the sun right now, I am welcoming it, but it makes me slightly nervous that we may have another stifling, record-breaking summer like last year's.
Could it have to do with the oak barrels they are stored in? Maybe a certain strain of molds from the oak? I know cheese has molds but that is a different type of mold. I am of course going out on a limb here but that possibility crossed my mind when I read your entry.
That must be REALLY tough. Having to test wines out to see which ones affect you and which ones don't. "Hmm. That bottle didn't affect me but i'll try another one just in case i didn't get the right result." My heart bleeds for you.. really it does ;)
Max did accuse me of just trying to buy more wine. :)
Seriously though, I'm at the point now where the pleasure derived from a glass of wine is being completely overridden by the misery it puts me through the next day. I felt like I had been hit by a truck, unable to hardly move and the entire day ended up being a complete waste. It's really frustrating.
It's funny, so much of my friends list seems ill in one form or another. Feel better!
The wine incident reminds me of a time I made a close friend very ill just a few months ago. We were "camping" in the Adirondacks and he woke up with a horrible migraine--so bad, in fact, that we feared we'd have to take him to the hospital. Later, he said it was the worst headache he'd ever had.
It turns out that he is allergic to MSG, an ingredient present in large quantities in the beef jerky I'd given him as a snack earlier that day. Whoops!
Ack! I feel for you :-( but I'm glad you're feeling better.
Migraines are so mysterious. All of a sudden I know so many people [almost all female] who have them. My sister claimed to have them, as a teenager, but I think she just meant regular headaches since they didn't seem to be nearly as incapacitating as what I hear from you and the other migraine-prone friends.
Have you ever read Gravity's Rainbow? There's a hilarious passage near the beginning about weird English candies like gin-flavo[u]red toffees. Maybe you could dig up some of that sort of stuff to send to jul3z. =)
Migraines do seem to be more common with women for some reason. My grandma and mother both suffer from them. I wonder if it's genetic? My worst ones were between ages 10-16 and would come out of nowhere, we nor any doctors could figure out what was triggering them. Just as inexplicably they decreased as I got older. Headaches and migraines are quite different.. migraines come with nausea and light and sound sensitivity. A dark, quiet room and painkillers are only things that help me get through them.
No, I've never read Gravity's Rainbow (looking it up now). I can imagine gin flavoured toffees. They like their boozy candy here. I'm sure I can find something a bit more appetizing than sugared eels. :)
My migraine-prone cow-orker Jessica thinks that women's hormone fluctuations could leave them more migraine-prone.
Full disclosure: I have not managed to finish Gravity's Rainbow, in three attempts. I lost energy, like a Himalayan climber. Doesn't mean I don't think it's a great book (like Dhalgren, which I've had the same kind of difficult relationship with.) If you haven't read Pynchon before, I'd recommend starting with The Crying Of Lot 49, which is mercifully short, and very funny, and incredibly prescient.
Well, I say that any bad wine is one that I don't like. :)
I don't know if a sommelier course would help, it might if I can figure out exactly what causes the smell and taste that I'm picking up on. Usually it's dry wines with a slight tart astringency that give me headaches.
A friend of ours has the same problem with wine, she says that she's fine as long as she sticks to organic wines only.
That postcard reminds me a little of Orpheus by Jean Cocteau, though I'm not sure why (other than black & white with butch blonde man) - I went to see it last week, absolutely brilliant film. Maria Casares is wonderful and beautiful.
Interesting, I'll make sure to try a bottle of organic then. Of course we still have about 100 bottles or so of wine in our collection to get through. Max doesn't seem at all bothered that he may have to take on that "burden". ;)
Putting Orpheus on my "to watch" list. The screen captures alone are quite striking.
On May 20th, 2004 10:34 am (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
About your migraine : just the same for me. If you get drunk and feel like a dying oyster the next day : well, that's life. But, as you noticed, I can feel badly ill just for one glass (and even just a half glass).
I'm french and, well, drink wine almost every day (and don't feel guilty about it ;-) but the interesting thing is : as you noticed, I can know in advance, just by smelling and even just looking at it, if I'll be deadly ill or not. And sometimes, smelling it gives me an instant migraine !
But my conclusions were different from yours : in my opinion the problem is me, and not the wine. I mean, some days, I'm just in the bad mood for drinking. And those days, just one "gorgee de biere" will give the same migraine (beer, not wine). But I you learn more about this phenomena, please, let us know : it could change my life.
Yes, I don't expect any sympathy whatsoever if I've been on a bender the night before and nursing a hangover. :)
My partner's family is French (and I am too, but only a fraction) so I'm well acquainted with the daily wine intake tradition. That's interesting you also can tell just by the smell and tasting alone! You're the third person I know of who can detect it, so we must be on to something. Perhaps it is me and not the wine, but I can usually have a beer or something any time without any problems. I will certainly post more if I finally figure out what is causing it.