Give Me All the Wine..Without the Headaches

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Have you ever thought about what is in your wine? I know most of you are thinking…nope I just drink the wine.

Well, I didn’t either until I recently found out that I can enjoy wine and not worry about headaches and brain fog the next day. You could say I was pretty thrilled to discover this wine.

I didn’t drink wine until my husband and I visited Italy for our honeymoon. While in Italy we tried all of the local foods and of course the local wine. One of my favorite memories of our trip is biking in Tuscany and visiting local vineyards along our way.

The wine that we drank came directly from the spout of a wine barrel. At restaurants, the only question about what to drink was house red or house white? I pretty much drank wine with every meal and never experienced a headache or hangover.

florence, italy

Unexpected Side Effects

After our honeymoon I wanted to occasionally continue the tradition of having wine with dinner, especially if we were making Italian food, like my favorite gluten-free meatballs. However, when I did I always experienced side effects, so I stopped drinking it all together.

Side effects that I experienced included headache, brain fog, fatigue, acid reflux, and poor sleep. This was just from one or two glasses of wine. Needless to say, this put a damper on my excitement for wine.

What is Wrong with Conventional Wine?

bottles of wine on a shelf
Photo by Scott Warman on Unsplash

I research this more…of course, because I always want to know why and how things are affecting my health. What I found is that there are many potentially harmful additives are commonly used in wine production.

In fact, there are 76 chemical additives approved in the U.S. by the TTB and FDA for use in making wine, including copper and ammonia. Pretty alarming, right?

I’m not too surprised because I know that all kinds of chemicals and additives are in processed foods, but I never really thought about wine. I was all naive thinking that it was really fermented grapes. This is why in Italy I was fine drinking wine, while back home I was taking aspirin and hiding in bed the day after. It’s all about the quality of the wine.

Some of the potential additives you may find in wine include:

  • Sulphur dioxide – a preservative that can induce asthma and cause other reactions such as dermatitis, hives, flushing, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and hypotension.
  • Sulphites – preservatives that can trigger serious reactions in people who are sensitive to them.
  • Sugar – is added to adjust flavor and alcohol content of commercial wine.
  • Animal products (gelatin, milk products, egg whites).
  • Mega Purple and Ultra Red – a super-concentrated grape juice syrup made from grapes. This adds extra sugar to the wine and can stain your teeth.
  • Due to industrial farming practices, conventional wine often contains pesticides, insecticides, and chemical fertilizers .

The list goes on, but I’m grossed out and convinced enough that this is not what I want to drink.

Thrive Market

Natural Wine to the Rescue!

group of people with wine glasses cheering
Photo by Kelsey Knight on Unsplash

Now that we know that a lot of conventional wines contain some pretty gross and harmful additives, do we have to give up wine? Heck, NO.

Last year I listened to an episode of Drew Manning’s podcast, Fit2Fat2Fit, where he talked to Todd White, the creator of Dry Farm Wines. Dry Farm Wines is a wine subscription service that provides natural, sustainable, and biodynamic wines.

He explained in this podcast that the wines they provide are sugar-free, low in sulfites, and are naturally made without additives. And, importantly, when drinking this wine you won’t suffer from the side effects of conventional wines.

This was hard to believe, but I decided to give it a try. I ordered from Dry Farm Wines using their every other month subscription of six bottles of wine. I really enjoyed all of the wines that I received and to my surprise, I felt great after drinking them.

Recently, I noticed that there are now wines at my local grocery store labeled as organic and with “no sulfites added” and found that they had the same effect….or no effect. No headaches, brain fog, and basic yuckiness. yay!

What to Look For in a Natural Wine

glass of wine on table
Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

Luckily for me (and YOU of course), there are numerous affordable, high-quality wines that you can order or find at your local grocery store.

These are the criteria for purchasing a quality wine:

1) Organic or Biodynamic Farming

Look for the USDA organic seal on your bottle of wine. This wine is made with grapes that were farmed organically or biodynamically. Organic wines are made from organically grown grapes and are also made without any added sulfites.

Biodynamic is similar to organic farming in that both take place without synthetic chemicals, but biodynamic farming incorporates ideas about a vineyard as an entire ecosystem. A biodynamic wine means that the grapes are farmed biodynamically, and that the winemaker did not make the wine with any common manipulations such as yeast additions or acidity adjustments.

Organic and biodynamic farmers use tools like compost, cover crops, and grazing livestock as opposed to synthetic fertilizers and insecticides.

2) No Added Sulfites

Wine manufacturers are not required to include a list of additives and coloring that they use in their wines. However, wines that do not add sulfites specifically say on their label, “NO ADDED SULFITES” or some may say, “LOW IN SULFITES”. This is what I look for when buying a bottle of wine.

Sulfur dioxide is a naturally occurring compound released during fermentation. However, wine makers “pile on additives to cover up faults developed during winemaking” according to Nicole Gulotta for Thrive Market. I’ve read that not everyone is susceptible to the effects of sulfites, but either I’m one of the not so lucky ones or it’s more common than they think.

3) Low Alcohol

I enjoy a glass or two or wine, but it’s well-documented that large quantities of alcohol adversely affect your brain development and bodily functions.

Also, as the ABV (alcohol by volume) goes up, so do the calories and carbs.

Low alcohol wines allow you to enjoy the benefits and taste of wine throughout the evening without experiencing the negatives.  I look for wines with ABV of 12.5% or less.

Where to Buy Natural Wine

Now that you know the criteria for picking out a natural wine, where can you find these awesome wines?

Your Local Grocery Store

I am lucky to have Whole Foods, Dorothy Lane Market, and Trader Joe’s as my local grocery stores. They each have a section in the wine department labeled as “organic wines”. Pretty easy to find, but I still check the label to make sure that it meets the above criteria.

If there is not a special section at your grocery store ask to speak with the wine buyer or manager of the department. Tell them you are looking for a natural wine that is either organic or biodynamic and they will help you with some options.

Thrive Market

Thrive Market is a membership-based online grocery store. I have been a member for several years and am still loving it. They offer affordable pricing and a broad range of hard-to-find food and lifestyle products. There is always a FREE gift with every order and FREE delivery with orders over $49.

Recently they have launched (drumroll here)….’Clean Wines’, a sustainably-sourced selection from artisanal producers—organic and biodynamic wines that contain:

  • No added sugar, oak chips, or flavorings
  • Minimal fining and filtration
  • Low sulfates, when possible
  • No manipulation of must
  • No use of dimethyldicarbonate (DMDC) or polyvinylpolypyrrolidone (PVPP)

They offer a huge range of wines from French Red table wine to Chardonnay…and they are affordable at $12-18/bottle. I can’t wait to try the 6 Curated Red Wines! If you want afforable wine that is always clean and always delicious this is the way to go.

Thrive Market

Dry Farm Wines

Dry Farm Wines is a subscription-based wine delivery club. They curate only the highest quality natural wines from small, sustainable family farms that meet their strict standard of health. They lab-test their wines and ensure that they are sugar-free, low in sulfites, low in alcohol, mold-free, gluten-free, and additive free.

You can choose a monthly delivery or every other month delivery. You can choose to receive 6 or 12 biodynamic natural wines sourced from small farms around the world. Each shipment includes different grape varieties, countries, and styles. You can choose red, white, or mixed. You can’t go wrong with this and it’s fun to try a variety of wines.

Scout & Cellar

Scout & Cellar was founded by Sarah Shadonix who is an attorney-turned-sommelier who has dedicated her life to taking the headaches out of great wine. This company is all about: Discovering the world’s most delicious clean-crafted wine and delivering it right to you. Because everyone deserves to live cleaner, healthier, and better.

You can either join the club and choose how often you’d like your wine delivered (monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly) or you can order from their site without a membership. I can’t wait to try it!

I hope this helps you to enjoy wine again…cheers!

Do you have a favorite natural wine? Let me know in the comments! Please share the goodness and pin it or share on Instagram and hashtag it #tonsofgoodness. Thank you!

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5 thoughts on “Give Me All the Wine..Without the Headaches

  1. Really informative post! Wine hangovers are the worst, and now I know how to avoid them. 🙂 Thanks for sharing the tips on how to get good-quality wine!

  2. This is so good to know! I love wine but have had to cut way back because of headaches and just feeling like garbage the next day. I will have to look into Dry Farm Wines!

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