Device could bring relief for red-wine headaches

Technology designed to help detect life on Mars can determine how much headache-inducing potential a particular wine has.

Glass of red wine
This tasty beverage can spell doom for some people. André Karwath via Wikipedia

Red wine is a drink with a dark side. We praise it for its full body, long legs, and exquisite nose, but the bacchanalian beverage has long been accused of being particularly prone to giving people headaches. Some people have such a sensitivity to red wine that they can't drink it at all.

Now, the Associated Press has good news for all you wine lovers. Scientists have speculated that the chemical culprit in red wine might be biogenic amines, like histamines. And although that hasn't been proved for certain yet, a group of UC Berkeley researchers working on that hunch have created a device that can detect the level of those amines appearing in a glass of wine.

With a single drop, the device can determine how much of the nasties are in a glass of wine and, therefore, how likely an amine-sensitive person is to get a headache after a few drinks. Right now the device is the size of a briefcase, but the lead researcher and the start-up he co-founded are working to get that down to the size of a PDA.

Interestingly, the technology it's based on was developed by NASA to help detect life on Mars. Who says investing in NASA is a waste?

About the author

Jennifer Guevin is managing editor at CNET, overseeing the ever-helpful How To section, special packages, and front-page programming. As a writer, she gravitates toward science, quirky geek culture stories, robots, and food. In real life, she mostly just gravitates toward food.

 

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