Does Wine Cause Acid Reflux?

Acid reflux can be triggered by any number of things including the consumption of caffeine, salt, or a large meal, or even the act of lying down two or three hours after that large meal (via Medical News Today). Acid reflux is no fun, and unlike dessert, it is not the kind of follow-up we want after a delicious dinner.

Acid reflux occurs as a result of a defect in the functioning of our digestive tract. The muscle that connects the base of the esophagus to the stomach — the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) — is responsible for keeping food down once it's passed through the esophagus (via Healthline). An improperly functioning LES muscle will fail to constrict once food travels down into the stomach, leaving the esophagus open for stomach acid to back up into it. In some cases, acid reflux can develop into a chronic condition known as GERD, in which acid reflux is experienced two times or more per week.

How alcohol affects stomach acid

Avoiding certain food items that are known to cause acid reflux may help reduce the likelihood of it occurring. Along with the aforementioned salt and caffeine, is wine also one of these food items we should be avoiding to prevent acid reflux?

Whether or not wine definitively causes acid reflux is still up for debate. While there is research that shows wine to stimulate acid reflux, other research demonstrates its potential to reduce it (via Healthline). Generally speaking, the more acidic the food or beverage, the more likely it is to cause acid reflux. According to GoodRx Health, alcohol is known to increase the production of stomach acid, keeps acid in the stomach for longer periods of time, and impacts the lower esophageal sphincter's ability to properly close. In addition, a 2019 scientific analysis found that frequent alcohol consumption was linked with an increased risk for developing GERD.

Is red wine or white wine better for those with acid reflux?

When it comes to wine, the type of wine being consumed may be what's causing your acid reflux. Although all wines do contain some level of acidity, according to DrinkWell, wines that are low in acid generally taste smoother, while wines that are high in acidity will have a more crisp taste. In some cases, additional acid may be added in during the winemaking process, as doing so influences the flavors, scent, and color of the wine.

If you're torn between a white or red wine, those prone to acid reflux may be better off opting for a red. Sweet white wines contain high levels of acid compared to red wines. The acidity percentage of white wine stands between 0.7% to 0.9%, while red wine only contains between 0.6% to 0.8% acid (via DrinkWell). To keep acid levels low, experts suggest choosing a wine containing grapes grown in warmer regions, such as California. Merlot, for example, is a red wine made with grapes containing low levels of acid. In contrast, a sauvignon blanc is made with grapes that are naturally high in acid. Last but not least, when it comes to keeping acid levels low in red wine, the longer it's been aged the better! For those who experience acid reflux, consider giving an aged merlot a try and see if symptoms improve.