For some time, it was thought that the red wine headache or RWH was caused by the sulfites contained in red wine. Well, the truth of the matter is that red wine actually contains less sulfites than white wine. Generally white wines contain a higher sulfite level than red wines do because white wines have a higher sugar content. However, very often red wine and headaches do go together.
About 20 years ago, the the Food and Drug Administration determined that about 1 percent of the population is allergic to sulfites and required that wines containing certain levels of the compound be labeled "contains sulfites." Many people have assumed, incorrectly, that the labeling is designed to warn people who get a red wine headache.
Another possible theory is that some people react to the histamines that are present in the skins of the grapes. In order to make red wine, the juice form the grapes is allowed to soak or come into contact with the skins, thereby producing a red wine instead of a white wine.
But a study of 16 people with an intolerance to wine, reported in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology in February of 2001, found no difference in reactions to low and high histamine wines.
It would appear that just about every study done to determine the correlation between red wine and headaches, there is another study that disproves the findings.
If red wine is your thing and headaches aren't, try different brands, different grapes and different countries of origin.
If that doesn't seem to be the answer for you, stick with white wine. The are so many varieties to choose from that you shouldn't find yourself limited because you can only tolerate white wine.
If a red wine headache is to occur it generally happens withing the first 15 minutes after consumption of red wine. This is not to be confused with a pounding headache several hours after consumption as that would be a hangover.