Q: Are there any wines that won't aggravate gastritis or acid reflux?
A: While gastritis and acid reflux are distinct diseases, they have common symptoms which can be aggravated by alcohol and other dietary considerations. According to gastroenterologist Dr. Stephen Hanauer of Northwestern University, alcohol is a chemical irritant that is capable of worsening pre-existing symptoms such as inflammation. Dr. Hanauer believes alcohol, more so than sugar, carbonation or tannins, is the key offender for those suffering from gastritis or acid reflux—the higher the percentage of alcohol in a drink, the more damaging to your digestive system.
However, Dr. Christopher Chapman, a gastroenterologist at the University of Chicago, says that alcohol is not entirely to blame for acid reflux. He says that everyone has various symptom triggers, and many of those have nothing to do with alcohol. Those triggers may include large portions of greasy meals and lying flat too soon after eating. But he suggests that red wine is less likely to agitate sensitive digestive systems than white wine.
A 2006 study in Munich, published in the journal of Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, looked at white wine vs. red wine vs. beer and its impact on reflux. “What they showed was that participants experienced more reflux with white wine [and beer] than red wine,” Dr. Chapman told Wine Spectator. “Red wine was associated with less acid exposure or length of acid exposure compared to white wine.” But Dr. Chapman recommends taking the evidence with a grain of salt, due to the study's small pool of participants (25 patients).
Both Dr. Hanauer and Dr. Chapman agree that it is safe to take acid blockers before enjoying a glass of wine, as they may provide a preventative benefit. And while low-acid, low-alcohol red wines may be least likely to aggravate gastritis and acid reflux symptoms, consult your physician about incorporating wine into a healthy diet.