Wine is a wonderful treat and an excellent way to experience a culture beyond everyday life. It is also an expansive world full of variety that can bring great joy when appropriately enjoyed. However, for all of wine’s wondrous traits, it remains an alcoholic beverage subject to all of the issues of more common drinks.
Alcohol is the type of drink you need to enjoy in moderation unless you want to find yourself dealing with its unpleasant side effects. However, getting drunk is only one aspect of what overconsumption can do to the body. The true ordeal begins the next day when you wake with a hangover that makes waking up a bona fide Olympian feat.
Despite its elegance, wine is no exception to the laws of inebriation. If you consume too much wine, you should not be shocked when you wake up the next day with a hangover. This is not to say you should not enjoy a glass of wine when the opportunity presents itself, just that you need to take care when doing so.
Some might wonder if there is a type of wine that will allow you to avoid a hangover altogether. You might be in for a nice surprise when you hear that there may well be wines that will not cause a hangover. This article will be dedicated to giving you the knowledge you need to identify such wines so you can add them to your collection.
What is a Hangover?
This might seem like a novel question, but it might prove enlightening for those who are new to the consumption of alcohol. A hangover is a common occurrence for anyone who has decided to indulge in an excess of alcohol. Alcohol is not great for the human body, no matter what kind it is, so drinking too much can weaken you.
For those who are unfamiliar, however, the most common symptoms of a hangover include:
- Muscle Aches
The reason alcohol can have such a debilitating effect on us is that it stresses the organs our bodies use to purge toxins and suspends certain biological functions we need to survive. Specifically, alcohol can:
- Dehydrate: Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it makes us urinate far more frequently than we normally would. As a result, our bodies retain less fluid, and we dehydrate. This dehydration directly contributes to some of the most infamous hangover symptoms, such as headache and dizziness.
- Disturb the Intestines: Drinking too much alcohol can cause acute gastritis, irritating our intestines and inflaming the stomach lining. This leads to nausea and vomiting associated with hangovers.
- Induce Withdrawal: Alcohol can suppress our central nervous system, interfering with standard bodily functions. Once the alcohol wears off, we begin to withdraw, and our bodies rush into overdrive to compensate for what they experienced the night before.
Hangovers can hit very easily unless you drink in moderation or find beverages that are less likely to cause them. Fortunately, there are ways to evaluate a bottle of wine before you drink it to make sure it has less chance of causing a hangover. You just need to know what to look for.
What to Look for in Wine
The simplest way to avoid a hangover when drinking wine is to avoid drinking too much. However, if you are looking for a bottle that will allow you to drink more without upping the risk of a hangover, there is an option for that too. The key to any beverage’s effect on your body and cognitive functions is the alcohol content.
Not every alcoholic beverage is created equal and will have a different alcohol content depending on the fermentation and production methods. This alcohol content is known as “alcohol by volume” or ABV. The ABV refers to the percentage of alcohol in relation to the density of the liquid in the wine. Reviewing the ABV of a bottle of wine before purchasing it will help you avoid wines that will leave you hungover.
In most cases, alcohol will have legal limits on the ABV, depending on the type. In order to sell a bottle as non-alcoholic, it must fall under the 0.05% threshold. Otherwise, it must be marketed as an alcoholic. Each type of alcohol has a specific ABV range that lists the minimum ABV to the maximum ABV. Wine is no exception and has a general range of acceptance. A typical bottle of wine will have an ABV range of between 5.5% to 16%, with an average ABV of between 12.5% to 14.5%.
The best way to find a bottle of wine that is not liable to leave you with a hangover, you will want one with a low ABV. The lower the ABV of the wine, the harder it will be for the alcohol to affect you in a significant way. A low ABV wine will likely not have enough impact to get you drunk enough to develop a hangover the next day. Fortunately, it is fairly simple to figure out the ABV of a bottle of wine since it is printed on the label.
However, ABV is not all that factors into what makes wine less likely to cause a hangover. As with almost every edible product in the world, additives are a major part of the production. When it comes to wine, there are both additives you want to avoid and additives you want to embrace.
Insofar as hangover prevention is concerned, the main additive you want to find is sulfites. Sulfites offer protective qualities to the wine that help prevent unwanted fermentation after you open it. If your wine oxidizes, rots, or ripens too soon, it will become too strong for your body to handle.
The thing about sulfites is that they are naturally occurring in wine, making them an additive that is hard to avoid even if you wanted to. The fact that sulfites can keep the wine preserved and enables you to enjoy them with minimal risk of hangover makes them one you do not want to avoid.
While these preservatives are extremely important to ensure your wine stays as pure as possible, they can be a little difficult to track. This means that your best bet is to stick to low ABV wines. However, if you are not overly familiar with wines that have low ABVs, there are a few examples of low-ABV wines that we will be discussing.
Low ABV Wines
There are many different types of wine with their unique profiles. Just as wine has many different brands and labels, it also has different ABV levels. Some wines are known for having lower ABVs than others, though if the ABV gets too low, it can hardly be called a wine anymore. However, some examples of low ABV wines are known to have a lower inherent risk of causing a hangover when consumed.
Some of the most common options include:
- Braida Brachetto d’Acqui: Braida Brachetto d’Acqui is a sparkling red wine from Italy generally served as a dessert wine. It is also one of the rare examples of wine that pairs well with chocolate. However, the biggest draw for anyone looking to avoid a hangover is that this wine has an ABV of 5.5%, the lowest possible ABV for wines.
- Vietti Moscato d’Asti: Vietti Moscato d’Asti, also referred to as Cascinetta, is an Italian sparkling wine. Much like the last Italian wine we discussed, it has the minimum ABV required to be considered a wine. With a 5.5% ABV, this wine will have a hard time causing a hangover.
- G.D. Vajra Moscato d’Asti: Another Italian wine, this sparkling Moscato leans heavily into its fruity profile. It is also low risk for hangovers since it has a 5.5% ABV (Noticing a pattern with the Italians?).
- Jean-Paul Brun Domaine des Terres Dorées: This French wine is one of the crowning achievements of Jean-Paul Brun, a vintner who employed the méthode ancestral to make his wines. It has a 6% ABV making it a safe choice if you hope to avoid a hangover.
- Domaine Renardat-Fache Bugey Cerdon: This wine is a mouthful in terms of the name and the amount you drink. This French red wine has an ABV that the vintners specifically control. Once the grapes are crushed, the liquid is stored until the ABV reaches 6%, and when the fermentation process is finished, the wine has a range of 7.5% to 8%.
- Maxim Grünhaus Riesling Kabinett Abstberg: This German white wine was produced in small quantities for a more delicate experience. A light wine with an ABV of 8.5%, it is highly unlikely for you to experience a hangover after drinking this Riesling.
- Broadbent Vinho Verde: Broadbent Vinho Verde is a white wine originating from Portugal. While this wine is not the most well-known, it is growing in popularity among Portuguese nationals and wine connoisseurs while also drawing attention from those looking for low ABV wines. Vinho Verde has an ABV of 9%, putting it just under Queer.
- Pinard et Filles: Pinard et Filles, also known as Queer, is a French wine that is a hybrid formed from Gamay and Pinot Noir. Queer is a French wine with an ABV of just under 10%, meaning it has a much lower chance of causing a hangover than more common wines.
- Brancott Estate Flight Song Pinot Grigio: Pinot Grigio that does not come from France is always a weird experience. However, it can be rewarding to give these lesser-known equivalents a chance. This wine comes out of New Zealand and has an ABV of 12%, making it a little stronger than most of the other wines listed here.
- Sauvignon Blanc: Sauvignon Blanc is, by and large, one of the most famous white wines in the world. Originating from France and existing as a prime example of fine wine, it also brings the highest ABV range on this list. While Sauvignon Blanc has an ABV ranging between 12.5% to 14%, it goes down easily enough that hangovers are rare when consumed.
These wines are easy to enjoy since they will not affect your system enough to generate a hangover without consuming multiple bottles. So, if you drink one of these wines, you will likely find yourself suffering from hangovers less and less. You will also want to keep an eye out for the additives we discussed before to make sure the risk of hangover remains minimal.
Raise a (Low ABV) Glass With Us
Wine can be a wonderful thing when enjoyed properly. However, too much of a good thing can be a serious issue when wine is involved. Moderation is the key to preventing a hangover in a normal setting. After all, the consumption of alcohol in excess will only negatively affect your health in the long run.
However, keeping an eye out for bottles of wine with a low ABV percentage and the sulfites needed to keep the wine as pure as possible can be just as crucial. All wines are made differently, and some will be more likely to cause a hangover than others, but all of them can be curated to ensure that the odds of a hangover remain minimal. Unfortunately, keeping track of all this information can be difficult without some help.
That is why we at the Wine Diarist have dedicated ourselves to providing as much information about the wonderful world of wine as we can. There is so much to learn about how to store, serve properly, and select wine that can make your head spin, which is why our articles were written to answer every question you might have. However, we know that we cannot cover every possible topic. So, if there is something you want to know, feel free to leave a comment so we can address it with our next post. Until then, we raise a toast to your health. Cheers to you!