Imagine the following scenario: you’re sitting down and enjoying a nice, mellow cup of Merlot. You’re savoring its sumptuous notes of chocolate and plum until you notice your face feeling warm and sensitive to the touch.
Why does wine make you feel hot and flushed after a while? While alcoholic flush isn’t unique to wine, many wine varieties have a higher alcohol content that increases the chance of you growing hot and bothered.
You may also have certain health issues contributing to this phenomenon, such as rosacea or an enzyme deficiency.
If you’ve asked yourself, “why does wine make me hot?”, don’t worry. We’ll answer the most common questions concerning why wine makes you feel hot, swollen, and all-around funky.
What is Alcoholic Flush?
Before we learn about why wine makes you hot, you need to learn about the phenomenon of alcoholic flush. This term refers to an occurrence where your skin becomes reddened, sensitive, and very hot after consuming alcoholic drinks.
Also known as heat flush or Asian glow, this phenomenon has been heavily studied to gauge its health risks.
While a little bit of redness in your face is perfectly normal when drinking alcohol, heavy flushing may be indicative of an underlying health issue.
Is It Normal For Wine to Make You Warm?
Alcohol is well-known for having the side effect of making you feel warm and relaxed. You can thank your healthily functioning blood vessels for that.
When you drink alcohol, your heart speeds up and sends more blood throughout the body. This increased blood flow is not unlike how you feel after jogging around the park or running up a flight of stairs.
Although feeling warm after drinking wine is nice, your genetic predispositions or lifestyle habits can send this feeling into overdrive.
Why Does Wine Make Me Hot And Flushed?
The cause of alcoholic flush lies primarily in your family history and your blood cells. While alcohol has the pleasant side-effect of making you feel warm and calm, this chemical is generally damaging to your cells and causes them to react unpleasantly at times.
Your dilating blood vessels dilate in response to your drink, resulting in the red flush you notice after a few sips. Depending on your health history, this side-effect can become more exaggerated.
There are several factors that increase your chances of experiencing an alcoholic flush:
Enzyme Deficiency is a High Possibility
We already explored how alcohol is damaging to your cells and causes them to expand rapidly. A major cause of alcoholic flush is enzyme deficiency, which contributes to less cell protection than people with a higher amount.
Untreated enzyme deficiency can lead to health issues such as obesity, low energy, and skin sensitivity. Fortunately, improving your enzyme count is done with a dietary change or IV treatments.
Alcohol Raises Your Blood Pressure
People with high blood pressure have an increased risk of alcoholic flush. If you have high blood pressure in your family, you have a higher than average chance of developing this condition.
Your Ethnicity May Play a Part
As stated before, an alcoholic flush is sometimes referred to as Asian glow. This term originated because certain groups of people, particularly people throughout East Asia, have a higher risk for enzyme deficiency than average.
People who live in the Mediterranean area, such as Greece or Turkey, also have a heightened risk for this condition.
You Could Be Dehydrated
How often do you drink water? Most importantly, do you drink water alongside your wine? Dehydration is already a common issue among adults, but this problem is compounded when consuming alcohol.
According to recent medical research, anywhere between 17% to 28% of American adults need to drink more water.
You May Have Rosacea
Last but not least, you may be experiencing flushed skin from an undiagnosed rosacea condition. This skin issue is common in people with pale skin and isn’t serious, but can be uncomfortable.
While alcoholic flush just looks like reddened and swollen skin, rosacea is unique in that you’ll also experience small bumps. These bumps are sometimes confused for acne, but instead, cause burning and dry skin.
What Should You Expect From Your Wine?
Determining how much wine you should drink depends on your tolerance level and underlying health issues. Remember that wine should be a soothing experience, not uncomfortable!
Consider Wine With a Lower Alcohol Content
Wine bottles often have a high alcohol content, ranging between 12% to as high as 20%. If you’re trying to push away alcoholic flush, try varieties with lower alcohol contents.
We recommend the following wines:
- Moscato (rarely goes beyond 5%)
- Riesling (ranges between 7% to 9%)
- Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris (hovers between 12% to 14%)
Make Sure to Drink Water With Your Wine
Alcohol is extremely dehydrating at the best of times. When you add sugar to the mix, you’ve got a recipe for flushed skin and a huge headache.
Always drink one glass of water with every glass of wine. Speaking of which…
Never Drink on an Empty Stomach
You won’t feel your best drinking alcohol on an empty stomach. Food gives your body the ability to soak up a little of the alcohol and slow down its progress throughout your digestive system.
Starchy foods are best, acting like sponges to mop up a little of the alcohol. Simple, tasty finger foods to eat with wine include:
- Thin crisps or crackers
- Unsalted or lightly salted pretzels
- French bread (also works as a palate cleanser!)
How to Keep Wine From Making You Too Hot
Want to drink wine the most effective way you can? We have a few tips.
- Check with your family doctor on potential health issues like enzyme deficiency, rosacea, or high blood pressure
- Go for low-alcohol wine varieties like Moscato, Riesling, and Pinot Grigio/Gris
- Drink water alongside your wine
- Don’t drink on an empty stomach
- Stop drinking whenever you get uncomfortable
Want to keep learning more about the art of wine? Read our pieces on Malbec, Zinfandel, and more!