just this afternoon the New York Times ran an Associated Press story titled
"Test Created for Wine Headache Chemicals."
"The chemicals, called biogenic amines, occur naturally in a wide variety of aged, pickled and fermented foods prized by gourmet palates, including wine, chocolate, cheese, olives, nuts and cured meats...Still, many specialists warn headache sufferers away from foods rich in amines, which can also trigger sudden episodes of high blood pressure, heart palpitations and elevated adrenaline levels."
This dovetails with my research of late, that tyramines, one of the major biogenic amines produced during malolactic fermentation, regular fermentation and wine aging, are a major wine headache producer. The production of biogenic amines, and specifically tyramines, are also related to volatile acidity, longer fermentation times and greater skin contact. Histamines are another biogenic amine, but they have been ruled out as a cause of wine headaches. Sulfites have been ruled out as well.
Tyramines are found in all aged foods, like wine, cheese, and some meats, and in other foods like eggplant, figs, grapes, oranges, pineapples, plums, prunes and raisins. Migraine sufferers learn to avoid foods with tyramines, but those foods can cause a bad headache in anyone. Another thing to consider is one's individual threshold for tyramines: a few glasses of red wine might be fine, but that red wine coupled with aged cheese, salumi, eggplant (an antipasto platter) may be too much for your body and a wicked, throbbing headache is the result.
More research as I unearth it.
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