Oh no!
It looks like you aren't logged in to the Ethel community. Log in to get the best user experience, save your favorite articles and quotes, and follow our authors.
Don't have an Online Account? Subscribe here

How I Solved My Hangover Woes

Did I really have to break up with wine?

Comment Icon
Wine hangovers
Comment Icon

The morning-after brain fog was what I dreaded most. After I indulged in more than one glass of wine, the next day my thoughts were completely muddled. I usually hadn’t slept well, either, waking up around 2:30 a.m. with a pounding headache and then being unable to fall back to sleep for hours.

“Our bodies just can’t metabolize the alcohol anymore,” one fifty-something friend said with frustrating resignation when I whined to her. “I limit myself to only one drink now,” she said.

Did I really have to break up with wine? Or exert superhuman willpower to cut myself off after merely one glass? That strength would be tough to summon during a pandemic in which that almost nightly elegant glass (or two) was my treasured reward after hours spent at my desk on Zoom calls.

Then I remembered something another friend had mentioned at a holiday party last year. “Have you tried clean wines?” asked Kristen Coffield, a self-described “culinary disruptor” and owner of  the Culinary Cure, which advises women on how to eat (and drink) wisely and age well. Her newsletter also touted clean wines as a solution to “wine-overs,” as she calls them.

So I did a little reflecting. My worst hangovers came after I consumed an array of random wines at a fundraiser auction, at a wine-tasting evening or during my book-group meetings. Since none of those events would happen anytime soon, however, I had plenty of space and time to research and experiment on my body. Would “clean” wines solve my hangover woes?

Serendipitously — or because social media can read my mind — advertisements for cleaner or sustainable wine started appearing in my emails and on my Instagram feed. I ordered half a case of rosé from Thrive Market, a sustainable grocery purveyor that had just launched a clean-wine program and would deliver to my doorstep.

Wineries that produce clean wines generally avoid using pesticides on their vines — which, as a serious tree hugger, I applauded — or they follow biodynamic or sustainable practices. I also learned that because Americans tend to have a sweet tooth, many wines destined for their palate have concentrated grape juice added to them, which is basically another name for sugar. Do I really need more of that in my life?

The chilled, clean wine was delicious and such a lovely shade of pink, so I sipped two generous glasses. After sleeping that night all the way through, I woke up the next morning feeling … spectacular. I ordered more wine in several varieties. Apparently, though, I wasn’t the only one making this discovery, because the company soon ran out of my favorite vintages.

I had to find other sources, so I jumped on the internet. As it turns out, the wine industry is in a bit of a kerfuffle about clean wines. First off, I soon realized that the term “clean” isn’t strictly defined or in any way enforceable. Wines — as I knew but hadn’t really thought about — aren’t required to have an ingredient list on those artfully designed labels. They have to disclose that they contain sulfites, because some people are sensitive or allergic, but that’s about all they have to say. Which doesn’t seem quite right, does it?

During my research I also discovered that I have something in common with 48-year-old actress Cameron Diaz, who experienced similar frustrations when she drank any old wine. Unlike me, though, Diaz has the funds and friends to take more drastic action: She founded her own clean brands of white and rosé wines, which are organic and vegan and claim to be free of 70 icky ingredients that vintners are allowed to add to their wines, including sulfites, sugar and other additives. (Avaline lists its ingredients on the website.)

I haven’t yet tried Avaline’s $24-a-bottle wines, but I appreciate Diaz’s jumping into the fray. Some wine industry experts say that the whole clean-wine movement is a lot of hooey, but can they really argue with more clarity in labeling? Or using fewer pesticides and unnecessary additives?

Coffield — who also reminds her clients to drink plenty of water while imbibing  — is a fan (and affiliate) of Scout & Cellar, a woman-owned clean-wine distribution company. I’ve also discovered the Lodi Rules certification in California, a label placed on wine bottles that means that the vineyard follows verified sustainable practices, which enhances my sipping experience in multiple ways. Naked Wines, a wine “angel” program that supports mainly smaller vintners, including many women, also will deliver several Lodi Rules-approved vintages. I now do my best to drink exclusively cleaner wines and have been known to bring my own bottle to a socially distanced gathering. I’d rather risk slightly offending my host than suffer a throbbing, time-sucking hangover.


Editor's Picks
The shock has waned and my new life has begun.
, April 18, 2024
How it led me to focus on what really spoke to my heart.
, April 18, 2024
It's our "happiness contest" from The Ethel.
April 18, 2024