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Health & Wine

8 whats and whys of wine

by Amy Toffelmire

Why does wine make me sleepy?

The alcohol in wine can certainly have a sedative effect, but there might be something more going on, especially if you're drinking Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon or Chianti. Researchers from Italy found that the skins of the grapes used to make these wines were high in melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep.

Why does wine make my face red?

You may have a wine allergy or alcohol intolerance. About 8 percent of people have an allergy to wine, which causes congestion, headache and flushing red skin reactions when they drink it. Alcohol intolerance, which often affects people of Asian descent, is a genetic trait that makes it hard to break down alcohol and causes skin flushing and rapid heartbeat, as well as congestion and headaches. Read more about wine allergies and alcohol intolerance.

Why does wine make me stuffy?

As mentioned in the previous question, could you possibly be allergic to an ingredient in the wine? Or perhaps you have alcohol intolerance. In either condition, it is common to get congested and "stuffed up" after drinking wine.

Why does wine stain teeth?

Grapes used to make wine are acidic, and acid can wear away at tooth enamel. When tooth enamel wears down, what becomes visible is the duller dentin beneath the enamel. Italian red wines are less acidic and have less effect on the tint of your teeth than, say, a French red wine or a white wine. Remember that if you swish wine in your mouth, it bathes your teeth in acid.

Why does wine burn my throat?

Grapes are acidic, and alcohol is an irritant. Put the two together and you have a recipe for throat irritation! Too much acid and irritation can lead to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), with symptoms of not just a burning throat but also heartburn, nausea, coughing and wheezing or a hoarse voice.

Why does wine give me heartburn?

Wine is acidic and boosts your body's acid production when you drink it. Even just a moderate amount of wine can trigger an episode of heartburn in those who are prone. Read more about wine's effects on digestion.

What is vegan wine?

You'd think wine was already vegan, since it's mostly water, alcohol and grapes. But to clarify wines, substances called fining agents are often added. Fining agents include vegan-unfriendly substances like casein (milk protein), egg whites, gelatine (animal protein) and isinglass (fish bladder protein). Some wines, though, are free of any trace of animal products, making them vegan. The most common vegan-friendly fining agents are clay-based or charcoal-based. For a quick way to check, visit

What makes a wine "organic"?

Organic wine is wine made from grapes grown without aid of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or chemical fertilizers. The organic winemaking process might also include ecological vineyard practices or restrictions on using excess processing, filtration or flavour additives. The qualities of wines labelled as organic may differ from country to country, since regulations differ.


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