We have no doubt that many of you suffer from these reactions and don’t dispute that reactions can be caused by some red wines, but the premise of this statement is that there is only one type of red wine: big bruising tannic monsters in the mold of reserve style Cabs and Bordeaux from “big” vintages.
In fact, there is a very large range of red wine styles that should give you no problem if a few common sense rules are followed. The agent provocateur at work here is usually tannic acid and other histamine type compounds extracted from grapeskins and also new oak barrels, so just keep these simple things in mind:
• 1. Just as you should never try to eat anything bigger than your head, people who have histamine reactions should never drink any wine they can’t see through. The pigments which give that huge black color to Chateauneuf du Pape, Aussie Shiraz, Spanish Tempranillo and Amador Zins are just the thing to invoke the mother of all migraines in those who are so susceptible.
• 2. Avoid like the plague any wine which proudly boasts on the label it was fermented in new oak barrels and wines which have been aged for excessively long times (over 12 months) in same. A sweet faintly vanilla-ish bouquet is a dead giveaway!
• 3. Most Americans stop drinking water the minute they start drinking adult beverages. The secret to how those Euro-Trash friends of yours suck down so much wine/beer/whatever is that they also consume oceans of mineral water. A good rule is to drink eight ounces of water before every four ounces of wine or glass of beer or shot of hard stuff. Yes, you’ll have to got to the loo a lot, but maybe you’ll meet someone who’ll option your screenplay while you do.
4) Eat Something!!!!
Careful analysis of the above rules will reveal an oft overlooked fact: it’s not cheap wine that give you a headache, it’s the big ticket items that were meant to be cellared for a couple of decades before consumption but that nobody waits that long for anymore.
What should you be drinking? Try something from Burgundy/Beaujolais, the lighter end of the Chianti spectrum, the lovely soft blends from Valpolicella, lighter Spanish Garnachas, the list goes on and on. Also, older vintages may have mellowed enough to avoid trouble.
Dr. Vino (Rory Olson) is the proprietor of Portland Wine Merchant located at 1430 SE 35th just off Hawthorne Blvd. portlandwinemerchants.com