No hangovers in Italy - Printable Version

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- richr - 07-10-2000 10:19 PM

Okay, I've gotten conflicting answers on this from friends who consider themselves knowledgeable on wines. Here's my question:

My wife and I recently spent several weeks in Italy, and not only was the wine fantastic, but we would regularly drink 3 to 4 times as much as we're accustomed to at dinner, (usually just a glass), and wake up the next day feeling absolutely perfect. No fuzziness, no headaches, not a hint of any kind of hangover effects. One friend swears that there are no sulfites or "other preservatives" in the wines in Italy, and puts it down to that. Another believes that there are indeed sulfites in the wine everywhere, and puts it down to the magic of being in Italy for the first time. However, I have talked to many people who have had the same experience there every time they go. I have perused some of the discussion of sulfites on the message board and though it's interesting, it doesn't relate specifically to this question. What's the deal?

[This message has been edited by richr (edited 07-10-2000).]

- Thomas - 07-11-2000 05:28 AM

First, sulfites do not cause hangovers.

Second, you were on vacation; did not have to go to work the next day; no kids; no pets; no responsibilities. You likely slept well, and you likely slept longer. Plus, you did not drink a lot of wine: 4 glasses (4 oz. each) is a pint, less than a bottle but just over one-half bottle--not a lot of wine. Also, you consumed the wine with food, lessening alcohol's effect.

Third, sulfites do not cause hangovers. Can't seem to say that enough.

[This message has been edited by foodie (edited 07-11-2000).]

- winoweenie - 07-11-2000 06:23 AM

And as an addendum, Sulfites DO NOT cause hangovers and are a naturally occuring component in ALL wines. Foodie told you just as it be. Winoweenie

- winecollector - 07-11-2000 08:10 PM

I've experienced the same thing, Richr. I will receive headaches sometime when drinking cheaper wines, especially wines on the sweet side. Some of the wines were from California, Chile, Australia, & Argentina. I don't know for sure what the cause is, but I've never had this problem with any Italian wines. Who knows- could it be something related to the sweetness, or could it have something to do with pesticides? Or could it be something else that a winemaker uses in his wine that some other wine makers don't use? Again, I don't know for sure what the answer is, but I can confirm that your not imagining things.

- chittychattykathy - 07-12-2000 01:48 AM

Pesticides could definately be one reason, from what I understand many of the wines from Italy are organic. (They just do not label them as such like we do here in the states.)

- Thomas - 07-12-2000 06:20 AM

Boy, do we go off on discussions.

Guys, a headache and a hangover are not the same thing. The first can occur at any time, the second takes a few hours and usually gets you the next day.

Too much sulfur dioxide can cause headaches in some people (sweet dessert wines often have much higher levels of SO2 than dry table wines). The headache that comes does not wait until tomorrow.

One of the best ways to protect against hangover is to consume plenty of H20 the night before, or at any time for that matter.

As for pesticides, I doubt seriously that much residue gets into wine, since most pesticide sprays must cease at certain dates before harvest. I could be wrong--we need a chemist.

Chitty-----, in Italy the word "biologica" means the wine has been produced so-called organically. And I do not think most of Italian wines are produced that way, but many are, and they usually state it on the label.

We can have a discussion on the word organic--but let's do it in the Rant section, and I know Bucko will join in.....

- chittychattykathy - 07-12-2000 11:40 AM

I've had many reps from Italian wineries tell me that their wines are organic but the label does not make mention of it. I don't know a whole lot more about subject, but I would be interested in hearing from someone who does. I do know that some Chilian wines have so much pesticide residue that you can taste it in the wine and I tend to get a sinus headache from that, not a hangover. I should have mentioned that my response was more of an "at the time of consumption" thing and not a hang over thing. Have not had a too many hangovers, as I am careful to keep hydrated at all times and try to eat. I to feel that just being in Europe somehow allows you body to handle much more wine then normal, and much more food, also you can sleep 4-5 hours a night and still feel great the next day. That's the beauty of a vacation! [img][/img]
Hangover tip: ( Friends of mine that are very heavy partin' Air Force fly boys swear by Starbucks Frappichinos as THE best hangover cure in the world. Worth a try folks!)

- winecollector - 07-13-2000 05:35 AM

Foodie- Richr's posting refers to "fuzziness, headaches, and hangovers." Also, I normally don't drink enough wine to get what would qualify as a "hangover," I was talking more along the line of headaches- the sinus headaches are a problem with me as well. The last time I experienced this was at a tasting, where an Australian Shiraz gave me an almost immediate sinus headache.

It would not suprise me if some of these countries that are newer to the global wine market, are not as careful as they should be concerning pesticides. Other than a stray bottle or two, I buy very little wine from South America.

- Bucko - 07-13-2000 08:30 AM

Hangovers are caused by dehydration as much as anything. Drink a glass of water for every glass of wine and the hangovers seem to disappear, but it may just be flushing out toxins. Following significant alcohol ingestion, higher levels of the metabolite acetaldehyde are present in the blood, and this is the headache culprit.


- richr - 07-13-2000 06:39 PM

Yes, I have rarely actually had a bad hangover, but have certainly felt a little fuzzy and out of it the next day. This didn't happen in Italy, though the more information I get the more I tend to think being on vacation was a major factor, a corollary to that being the amount (more than usual) and possibly the type of food we were eating. The headache problem used to happen occasionally when drinking wine that wasn't too great--over the years I've learned not to bother if it isn't something I like. I do usually keep up the water consumption if I'm drinking and it does make a difference, though I must say it's exciting to have yet another excuse for a Frappucino.

Thanks--all the information in response to my question has been great--please continue if anything jumps to mind. I must add that though I found the wines I had in Italy less complex than the better CA and French wines, they were without exception a pleasure to drink, easy to drink, and tremendous with the food at all times. I'm sure there are more complex and expensive Italian wines, but what amazed me was the consistent "enjoyability" in every wine, no matter how inexpensive or basic. I certainly can't say that about wines in the USA--most times someone brings over a bottle of Chardonnay or Cabernet it ends up in the fridge as cooking wine.

- Thomas - 07-17-2000 07:40 AM

Rich, you discovered about Italian wines what is the true nature and secret of wine appreciation. Frankly, I get bored with all the talk about chewy, big tannic, oaky bombastic works of art (which is of course in the eyes and mouths of the beholders). Wine is food--simple and enjoyable food. The Italians know that fact, except for a few exceptions in Tuscany where wine prices now reflect the fadism of those bombastic wines and that have more to do with marketing than with wine.

- Dogwalker - 07-17-2000 02:00 PM

Foodie, I agree with you about the vacation aspect. I was quite concerned about our church building trip in Maine, not from the wine consideration but having problems with my stomach I looked for a long week. The site had only the "dreaded" comfort castle. But I had a great week with no problems - VACATION, no office, no pressure = great time.
I also find that cheap wines tend to give me headaches.
Best wishes, Chuck

- tcarlsen - 07-26-2000 10:31 PM

Cause of Hangover:

According to "The Medical Advisor," a very reputable book I have, "Alcohol by-products called congeners seem to increase the severity of a hangover. Gin and vodka have few congeners and are thus least likely to produce a hangover, whereas brandy, champagne, and whiskey have the potential to cause the worst hangovers. Red wine can also bring on a hangover because it contains tyramine, a substance that can cause severe headaches."

Naturually, there is more to a hangover than just this, such as excessive drinking. It's the buildup of the by-products, such as lactic acid, in the first place that causes it (maybe water would help?)

I assume you were drinking mainly white wine in Italy, and the types of grapes used maybe had less hangover causing agents.

- richr - 07-27-2000 12:30 PM

Actually, no, I was drinking a pretty good amount of red wine. However, the idea that the types of grapes may have had less hangover producing agents is as good an explanation as I think I'm going to get. I have to think that tons of small, traditional, local vineyards who are not trying to make some sort of world-class cabernet are going to grow a different kind of grape and make a different kind of wine from that produced in much of California at this point. And I have been told that there are all sorts of varieties of grapes that don't even make it out of Italy, so it's quite possible I was often drinking a type I've never drunk and might never drink again until I'm there next time.