Wine headaches: That glass of Cabernet at lunch may hurt

What is it about wine, especially red wine, that makes as much as a third of humanity unable to drink it without getting a headache? We’re not talking about a hangover here. Drinking just one glass can trigger immediate discomfort, raise blood pressure or morph into a days-long migraine. Until the 1980s, red wine headache, as the condition has become known, was put down to alcohol intolerance—yet those afflicted could consume beer or spirits without feeling pain. Perhaps the greatest injustice is that it even affects people who love the taste of wine and the way it pairs with food.

No one knows for sure whether this was always the case or whether the condition arose with industrial winemaking. And the discussion, rumours and outright myths circulating on the Internet have proven as much a hindrance as a help to the potential remedy recently developed in Canada.