No hangover wines: Do they really exist?

The Daily Beast posted a story this week that claims to have found the holy grail: wine that won’t give you a hangover.

The writer, Jordan Salcito of Momofuku, talks about drinking three bottles of wine at dinner with a friend and waking up the next morning without feeling icky. In fact, both diners felt so great one dominated at a tennis match the next morning and the other at a spin class.

I know what it’s like to exercise the morning after a couple bottles of wine and for me, it’s hard enough to get out of bed, let alone actually move my body around to burn calories. I kind of look like #hangovercat.



Salcito says that his secret is natural wines, ones “made from ripe grapes and not much else.”

With that in mind, I decided to ask a nutritionist why that would be the case.

Roger Clemens, an adjunct professor of Pharmacology & Pharmaceutical Science at University of Southern California and a nutrition expert, said there is no scientific evidence to back up the claim that there will be a difference in hangover impact if you grab a bottle of natural wine rather than a conventional one.

None of the elements of conventional wine Salcito mentions in his article–supplementary sugar,sulfur dioxide, nitrogen, tartaric and malic acid, oak essence, etc–has been directly linked to hangovers, Clemens said, adding:

Hangovers, other than over indulgence, reflect the body’s response to excess alcohol (the liver is rate-limiting in alcohol metabolism) and possibly minor compounds often referred to as congeners. Congeners are natural products of fermentation and distillation. Even those who study the pathology of alcohol hangover suggest that other factors may subject vulnerable individuals to hangovers. Some of those factors include degree of hydration, immune status, health status, genetics and ultimately, individual variations.

Now, Salcito admits that his belief is based on anecdotes and not science and he warns not all natural wines are just dandy:

While natural wines have a host of merits, some can be a game of Russian Roulette if you aren’t familiar with labels. The term, which is nebulous and unregulated, can apply to any wine made without very few winery manipulations.  Some wines that fall under the natural wine umbrella are lambasted for trying to pawn off technically flawed wines. Some of them have the tannic composition of splintering plywood, and others have the aromatic make-up of fermenting dill pickles, nail polish remover, and unwashed feet.  Plenty of wines seem to get a free-pass on wine lists and retail shelves simply because they are “natural.” But like all wines, some are good, some are bad, and some are truly extraordinary.

So what did Salcito drink that magical night that led to a magical morning sans hangover? Eric Pfifferling’s l’Anglore Tavel rosé and two others of similar style. He also recommends:

  • Stella di Campalto, Tuscany, Italy
  • Arnot-Roberts, Sonoma, CA
  • Van Volxem, Mosel, Germany

Check out the article for more about natural wines and other recommendations. Buyer beware, though, most of those recommendations will cost you a pretty penny. I checked for prices and most are over $30.