Is Wine Bad For Acid Reflux?

If you have ever had heartburn, then you know how painful it can be. For many people,  heartburn is irregular, a one in a blue moon ordeal. However, for others it isn’t, and for some alcohol is the trigger.

Acid reflux can turn a nice night out with your friends into a disappointing and unpleasant evening. 

For many sufferers of acid reflux, there is the question of whether or not there is anything that they can drink that won’t trigger it.

If you love wine, you might feel disheartened when you find that a glass or two of your favorite beverage makes your stomach feel heavy and unhappy. 

So, today, we will look through the link between acid reflux and wine. We will find out if wine is bad for acid reflux, and if there are any wines that are an exception. 

What is Acid Reflux? 

Before we start talking about the part that wine has to play in all this, we want to elaborate on what acid reflux actually is. 

Acid reflux is where the acid from the stomach flows into the tube connecting your mouth and your stomach, known as the esophagus. This is what brings that burning feeling in your chest that we call heartburn.

It can trigger some other really unpleasant symptoms such as a sour taste in your mouth, hiccups, bloating, and even vomiting, which you do not want because vomiting acid is rather painful.

If this happens frequently enough, then you may get diagnosed with GERD, which is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. This is a condition that is believed to affect around 1 in every 5 people. 

It is not always clear what causes acid reflux, however, some of the primary triggers are in certain foods and drinks, things like tomatoes, chocolate, coffee, alcohol, and spicy food are all common factors.

Mental conditions such as stress and anxiety can also cause it. Being overweight can also increase the likelihood of acid reflux, and it is also more likely to occur if you take certain medications such as ibuprofen. 

However, alcohol is known to be one of the causes, which is a sad fact for anyone who enjoys a drink. So, is wine bad for acid reflux? Or is it less of a risk factor? 

The relationship between acid reflux and wine

Any alcohol can trigger or worsen acid reflux for some people. For some people different alcohols will drink on acid reflux faster, or more aggressively than others. However, there is a significant association between alcohol consumption and the risk of GERD occurring. 

There are several reasons why having a glass of wine may cause you to suffer from acid reflux. These are as follows; 

  • Alcohol relaxes the muscles around the stomach. This makes it more likely that the contents of the stomach will leak out into the esophagus, thus causing heartburn. 
  • Chemicals in the wine can directly irritate your stomach and throat. 
  • What you eat when you consume wine can also contribute to heartburn. Wine is often consumed alongside rich and plentiful food. However, if you consumed wine with, say, a tomato heavy dish, then you have two acid reflux triggers there. 
  • The alcohol content in wine can make your stomach produce more stomach acid. It may also make your stomach tissues more sensitive to acid as well. 
  • If you are a social smoker, and you smoke when you drink, this can also increase the likelihood. Tobacco can stimulate your stomach acid and cause the muscles between the esophagus and stomach to relax alongside the alcohol. 

Contrary to this, drinking some wines will reduce your risk of something called ‘reflux esophagitis’. Red wine particularly may have protective qualities, and it is able to kill ‘Helicobacter pylori’, which is a bacteria found in people suffering from chronic gastritis. 

Nonetheless, both wines do increase the amount of acid in your stomach, thus having the potential to lead to issues. 

Which wine is the most acidic? 

Every wine lies on the acidic side of the pH spectrum, most ranging from 2.5-4.5 pH, with 7 being neutral.

It is these acidic components that are fundamental in determining how the wine looks and tastes. Thus, wine contains many acids, with the main ones being tartaric acid, malic, and citric acid. 

There are many things that will affect how acidic a wine is, such as the ripeness of the grapes used to make the wine, the climate the grapes are grown in, and the age of the wine. 

Acid may also be added to temper with the colors, aromas, and flavors of a wine. High acid wines will taste crisper, low-acid wines will feel smooth and round. 

Generally though, white wines are the most acidic, more so than red wine. Sweet white wines are the most acidic of all.

In red wine, the tartration level- which is the percentage of wine that is acidic- is usually 0.6% to 0.8%, whereas in white wine it will generally be between 0.7% to 0.9%. 

Is there any wine I can drink with acid reflux? 

So, is there any wine that is really low in acid and won’t flare up your acid reflux? 

You can start by looking for wines that originate from warmer climates. If grapes are grown in cool climates, they will usually be more acidic. So if you suffer from acid reflux, ditch the French wines, and go for a Californian one instead. 

You can also look for wines that are made from grapes naturally low in acid, some of these would be Viognier, Greneche Blanc, and Merlot. Avoiding grapes that have naturally high acidity levels will also help, Pinot noir, and Sauvignon Blanc are examples of this. 

Aged reds will typically be more mellow, and less acidic than younger reds. 

So, if you want to be able to drink wine despite your acid reflux, ditch the young whites, and try out an aged Merlot for the best chance of avoiding that horrible, horrible heartburn. 

Christina Day
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