Red wine vinegar, as the name indicates, is made from red wine that is allowed to ferment until it turns sour. Manufacturers then strain and bottle the vinegar, although sometimes it is aged further to mellow out the taste. In some cases, red wine vinegar is aged for up to two years. Red wine vinegar contains little fat but adds flavor to foods. The high acidity can increase stomach acid production, however, leading to a greater risk of acid reflux.
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Vinegar and Dietary Triggers of Acid Reflux
Certain foods will increase your stomach acid content, including high acid foods such as citrus fruits and tomato products. While vinegars, including red wine vinegar, are not commonly listed as potential dietary triggers, their high acid content means you should be wary of them if you regularly suffer from heartburn. In general, avoid high-fat foods, carbonated drinks and spicy foods as well as coffee, strong tea and chocolate if you suffer regularly from acid reflux. Because everyone has different acid reflux triggers, some foods may be more tolerable than others, so try consuming small amounts of red wine vinegar to see if it triggers heartburn.
Histamine Intolerance and Acid Reflux
According to Chris Kresser, a specialist in integrative medicine, vinegars and red wine itself may trigger acid reflux because of a histamine intolerance. A histamine intolerance occurs when your body has trouble breaking down histamine, a compound responsible for immune system responses as well as gut function. If you have a histamine intolerance and have too much histamine in your system, it can lead to symptoms that include hives, headaches, a runny nose and acid reflux. Because diagnosing a histamine intolerance can be hard, you need to consult a medical professional, both for the diagnosis and for suggestions for a low-histamine diet.
Benefits of High-Quality Red Wine Vinegar
If acidic foods such as red wine vinegar do trigger acid reflux, consider choosing a higher-quality, aged red wine vinegar. The lengthened production time leads to a less sharp taste -- albeit one that is still sour -- which may be more tolerable if sour foods trigger your acid reflux. While red wine vinegars can range in color from pale pink to a deep, dark red, high-quality red wine vinegars will have a well-rounded flavor that is tangy rather than sharp and highly acidic.
Using Red Wine Vinegar
Red wine vinegar is often used in only small quantities, to add some acid to sauces and dressings, or it can be used as a marinade for meats. In such small amounts, it may not trigger acid reflux. To reduce the risk of it triggering reflux symptoms, do not use red wine vinegar with other foods that are known to trigger heartburn, such as onions, garlic or hot peppers. Red wine vinegar is known to have health benefits, and a 2005 issue of “Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin” included an animal study that found red wine vinegar, consumed with grape juice, led to lower blood pressure levels.