mystery wine illness the morning after

A fellow faculty member at UCLA told me he stopped drinking wine because he develops a very nonspecific malaise the morning after. This is not headache or migraine variant. He is not drinking enough to cause dehydration or hangover. This kind of thing is tangential to my own academic interests but I have been contacting various wine academics and wine makers. The consensus is that this is not due to sulfites. I posted some of our communications below. No one really knows :

Do you think it is worth me giving this guy a bottle of your biodynamic wine to see if it does not cause his illness, which he says is NOT a headache. I am also looking into biogenic amines as a cause. I may tell him to take an antihistamine prior to consummation

from a wine academic:
By chance we are looking into a general “headache” response to wine. It is likely to be related to this issue. A sulfites reaction is unlikely, but he could try orange dried apricots to see if that produces a response. For now, let me suggest he try drinking low alcohol wines (13.0% and lower). I can suggest Matthiason or Stoumen or Clime, but there are others. Unfortunately, the alcohol label is not a reliable indication of actual alcohol concentration.

This is not exactly the right forum to bring this up since people regularly drinking wine do not have such problems but has anyone heard of such a thing or have any further information?

My father in law suffered badly from even 1 glass of red wine. He could drink a martini with no issue. Perhaps special sensitivity to the histamines in red wine? Basically a bout with allergies as opposed to a hangover. Tell him to take a Claritin D and then hit back a couple of glasses and see what happens.

One thing that is not really been discussed much is the potential effect of other additives that are being more readily used in wine nowadays than ever before. For instance, enzymes that breakdown pectinase in the skins to allow for greater extraction are now commonly used at all levels of the wine industry. V e l c o r i n is now being used a lot more regularly by wineries in lieu of filtration in order to sterilize wine. Not a lot or perhaps no Studies have been done to look at the additive effects of using any of these techniques or additives in conjunction with others.

The fallback answer these days is certainly histamines but we really do not know for sure.


Small world. A local (biodynamic) friend of ours emailed me this an hour ago:


I suspect that there is some kind of chemical that is used in the winemaking process that causes his headache. As you are probably aware it is not unusual for winemakers to add chemicals along the way. You can find lists online of these chemicals but the one that concerns me the most is DMDC (dimethyldicarbonate) or Velcorin (trade name) - this chemical is bad news and should in my mind not be allowed in wines. Certain local producers are know to use Velcorin and I have personally experienced headache problems from drinking their wines.


As a chronic h/a sufferer I wish Velcorin was forced by law to be a listed additive on wine labels. I wouldn’t drink any wine that had this chemical.

I didn’t drink anything yesterday with a lingering, low-grade, feeling like crap headcold or allergy from clearing out our garage. Woke up with a shitty h/a this AM, just like a hangover. 4 hours now and it’s just dissipating.

I have friends and some relatives, all women, who have gastrointestinal issues with almost all white wines except true Champagnes. I have never been able to explain this as they have no trouble with red wines. More sulfur would make some sense but some reds have plenty of sulfur as well and don’t seem to cause them upset.


I am sure that other winemakers will come on here and explain that Velcorin has very few side effects in that folks are making more of this than they need to.

I truly I’m suspicious of those claims. I believe that there is something there. And my guess is that you are consuming wine that have been hit with vitamin v as it is called by many winemakers because it is used a lot more so than one would believe. I know that mobile lines here in Santa Barbara and SLO counties continue to be overbooked, just as they have been for the last number of years. And we are not just talking major mass-market wineries that are using this chemical.

My advice is to ask each Winery that you regularly purchase from whether they are using it or not. Those that are should have no problem telling you as such and explaining why they are.


I highly doubt wineries would be happy sharing this information. If it is seen as a negative, why would they? And if there is no ‘there’ there, why not disclose it on the label?

I admit to not knowing any about Velcorin. When I read this on the producer’s website right now my jaw hit the floor. With a warning like that I would love to know what wine producers use it. That warning says all one needs to know about how “safe” it is.

Conditions of Use:

Velcorin must be used with an approved dosing system. Scott Laboratories will only sell Velcorin to those using a LANXESS sanctioned dosing machine. > Velcorin is a chemical and must be handled with respect. Therefore, all Velcorin handlers must undergo annual safety training (provided at no charge by Scott Laboratories, Inc.). > The current cost of a Velcorin dosing machine is about $74,000. For more information on Velcorin and dosing machines

What’s the benefit of the chemical?

Click the link in my post. Tells you everything you need to know about it and what it’s used for.

Charlie, the benefit of the chemical is that it kills live yeast cells without having to sterile filter the wine. Winemakers can then say that their wines are unfiltered even though they’ve nuked them!

And as far as Winery is being honest about what they are doing, I would assume that small to medium-sized wineries would be so. And I’m not talking about their marketing department, but talking to the winemaker.

That said, truth in advertising in the wine industry is not what it should be :slight_smile:

And I have had many conversations with winemakers who frequent this board who have either used it sparingly or have investigated it thoroughly. Most continue to claim that they do not see any negative ramifications of this.

One of the concerns I’ve expressed is the increased level of methanol that is created using this chemical. The winemakers who I’ve spoken to have ensured me that the levels are not any greater then one might see in a wine that does not use this chemical.

What we really have no clue of is what else is happening two molecules in the wine but using this chemical, and it’s additive effects with other things that may be used.

There is much to be said for modern wine making techniques, but not everything has been thoroughly vetted in my honest opinion.

I would love for other winemakers to hop in and take part in this discussion. I don’t think people are making up the fact that they are Having side effects from having wine these days. I do believe that it has little to do with sulfites but much to do with other things as yet undetermined.



If the yeast cells are being lysed they are releasing their intracellular contents into the wine , right?
Would this happen if the yeasts are eliminated by filtration? How else do people eliminate the live yeast?

If you think this is a lead, I could research the toxicity of the intracellular contents of yeast.


as a follow up to my last post- what I am saying is that the lysed yeast might be causing a Herxheimer Reaction, which is a well known medical phenomena:

go right to page 48 of this paper since the rest is most likely total BS

This hypothesis should be simple to test- give someone these killed yeasts in water.
Larry- you interested? know of any Giuinea Pigs in Los Olivos?

As wine is a favored hobby for me, trying to be an enabler for others comes into play.

Just randomly assembling snippets from the above…

Wine and beer are intact products of natural fermentation and contain, typically, many more compounds than something like vodka. Difference number one is not so much the alcohol as it is what else is in there. (Six times distilled wine would likely suck.)

It is not necessary to over-imbibe or have a hang-over to feel some negative affects from drinking wine or beer. (I meet loads of people with beer intolerance, as well.)

Many people ‘vasocongest’ with wine or beer. We can note a feeling of mild flushing, warmth, etc. as a common sign, but an oft overlooked aspect is a bit of nasal airway congestion, even if we don’t get a frankly stuffy nose.

The nose is the preferred organ of respiration. With even a bit of stuffiness or congestion in the posterior portion of the nasal airway, we can see a switch from predominant nasal breathing to include more mouth breathing.

Curiously, our mouths are not meant for that use in any ongoing way. Our mouths are best kept closed for breathing (and probably many conversations, but I digress) and are terrible at maintaining one’s breathing. Mouth breathing uses up gobs of moisture and we experience ‘insensible’ water loss, making for mild dehydration through the course of sleeping. (It’s also bad for our teeth.)

So, even without being inebriated or ‘deserving’ a hangover, we can alter our airways in ways that make for a lousy next day.

This is not a universal cure, but hitting some Afrin (or generic) before, during, or after a wine tasting may help keep the nose more open, the mouth shut, and no malaise the next day.

“Blah blah blah Afrin may be habit forming.” This is true, but not if used once or twice a week to enable wine pleasure.

This was a long winded way of me saying to have your friend try some Afrin and see if he notes any improvement. There is no way to test in advance, it’s a ‘try it and see’ thing.

This topic is quite complex and there are other cool things to bloviate about, as well…

For some people, using aspirin 650mg 2 hours prior to a tasting can eliminate intolerances. (There may be a platelet activating factor effect with wine drinking and pre-treatment may make the problem not get traction.) Ibuprofen or naproxen may or may not be as good, aspirin is the original thing to try first. The lead time is crucial, it won’t work if taken after the problem is there.

For others, anthistamines might help, even Sudafed. A topical antihistamine called azelastine may be of great benefit. It is a nasal spray. It tastes terrible, so proper damn technique is required when using it, also in advance of starting to taste.

One last fascinating thing about the Afrin trick. Some migraine sufferers have triggers caused by minute bits of congestion that may occur high in the nose and not be consciously noticed. When this small bit of congestion occurs, it can make some mucous membranes come into contact with each other, and the nerve endings on the tissue HATE that and can act as headache triggers. To get a feel for this, try sticking a Q-tip up your nose and see how it feels when it happens and a more macro-scale! For wine/beer migraines, Afrin can even help with that…for some people.

Thus ends the Afrin commercial. (I have no vested interest, and remember, using it more than 1-2 times per week can lead to rebound congestion, so NEVER more often than that.)


Velcorin breaks down extremely fast. There is none in the wine by the time it is consumed. It’s also used in a lot of commercial bottled juices and doesn’t have to be listed as an ingredient because there’s zero left at the time of consumption. It’s easy to look at its toxicity and get scared, but there’s really no basis for that fear.


It’s not listed on all kinds of other types of juices because the chemical reactions that take place in wine with it and ethanol don’t exist in other juices that have no alcohol present. I know that it is used in Gatorade as well.

The question is not only what his left - but other chemical reactions might it leading to, and what else might be ‘created’ in wine than would have been there without its use. I don’t think anyone has the answer to that - they have mainly looked at methanol levels in wine since that is one of the known by-products of the chemical reaction.


The point I was trying to make is that it is not the velcorin but the yeast intracellular chemicals liberated into the wine after the yeast are killed and presumably lyse- but I am still waiting for Larry or a yeastologist to verify this.

Doug – can you provide a reference regarding Velcorin half life once it enters wine?

Methanol… That might be an explanation in itself?
“As the body metabolizes methanol, side effects can include weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, and blurred vision.”