There are some things that don't add up with the whole "sulfite headache" issue. Based on my own experience:
1. I get a headache faster if not hydrated and it happens within an hour or so
2. I'm more likely to get a headache if I've had a baby within the year (liver enzymes diminished/thrown off from pregnancy? breastfeeding causing more dehydration? Not sure)
3. I don't normally get a head ache from champagne, beer or mixed drinks (unless dehydrated...)
4. Some wines (and sake) don't cause a headache so much as make me feel flushed and "puffy," for lack if better word. My face feels ever so slightly swollen, which points to histamine reaction? Again, not sure.
5. I have had stronger headaches after cheap wine provided at events for free that show up several hours later. Normally the wine is paired with mass produced food for many guests as well.
6. I don't get headaches from organic wines usually...but they still naturally contain sulfites (so how can sulfites be the cause?).
7. I didn't get headaches when we had ample amounts of wine in Italy (and Italian wines have natural sulfites even if not added sulfites)
I've talked to other people with the same problem...they suggested allergy medication a half hour before enjoying wine to fix the problem. I'm not much of a pill popper though and don't want to get accustomed to doing that. And why no headaches in Italy when I drank more wine than normal? Why more headaches after I eat out and not as many at home? A wine experience is complex...if I have a cheap red with a cocktail of stabilizers and histamines, combined with sodium laden, mass produced chicken, combined with the adrenaline rush of being in a group setting... throw in dry air of winter months and breastfeeding- I'll probably get a headache. But in the cross winds of sea air in Italy, eating fresh fish and lots of bubbly water, not to mention walking all day in fresh air touring around. And do you buy cheap wine on vacation? No, you celebrate with the nice stuff and don't rush the meal (no inflating babysitter bill lingering). And speaking of babies...Willem was nearly two years old when we went on our trip, not a baby anymore. No headaches.
So on a day to day basis, instead of blaming sulfites for my ills, I'll be conscious of how my day is playing out (how my year is playing out) and if I'll enjoy (or not) a glass of red with dinner. I'll be trying to drink a glass of water for every half glass of wine. And I'll be sure to eat some good food with it as well. In a big group setting, I'm more likely to have hot tea instead of a mystery wine even if it's free. And if I think I'm getting sick...you can take the wine glass off the table for me. Broth-y soup please. :)