So, am I allergic to wine?

Posted on April 15, 2017 by Alexander Thomson McLean | 0 comments

wine allergy

Imagine, having to tell someone that the answer to the question is yes? It must be terrifying when faced with a Bridget Jones type of patient in front of you! However I am willing to bet that you’ve noticed that after just one glass of wine you experience breathing problems, awful nasal congestion, swelling of the lips or mouth, or even vomiting then the answer is probably yes. Sadly.
There is research from Johannes Gutenberg University that has shown that alcohol intolerance is actually quite common - nearly 25% of their respondents experienced some of the above symptoms. Another study has also revealed that women are twice as likely to suffer from wine allergies.
As the UK is getting ready to promote Allergy Awareness Week from 23rd to 30th April 2017, we simply cannot miss an opportunity to give you a little bit of assistance with that pesky wine allergy issue. After all, more than 2.5 million Britons are suffering, potentially unnecessarily, just like you.
What are the causes of wine allergy?
Firstly, we may need to rename the phrase ‘wine allergy’ as thinking about it is giving me a stabbing feeling through my heart! Perhaps ‘Herbert’? Anyway, losing focus already! Wine contains proteins derived from grapes, sulphites and other compounds. The first two - tannins and excessive amounts of added sulphites are most common reasons that we may experience wine allergy.
You can quickly check whether it is histamine reaction by choosing a low histamine wine (low in tannin like a pinot noir) or simply opting for a white wine (even if just to check whether it is the cause or not.) Mainly this is because white wine doesn’t have any tannins! Sulphites in wine are added by many, many mass market wine producers. This is obviously to maintain the shelf life of their wine. Try opting for a natural wine made with no added sulphites to check whether you have an issue with sulphites. Remember, that unfortunately there is no such thing as sulphite free wine as some minor amounts occur naturally in every wine, but those would be tiny quantities you won’t feel them. Just be careful as some wine regions have a higher natural content ie. Sicilian wines are grown in highly volcanic soil so higher sulphur content!
Finally, if nothing above works and you are still feeling none of your symptoms to disappear, it may be a wider problem- you might be intolerant to alcohol in general! Scary thought! Unfortunately the only thing we can suggest is getting straight down to your doctors to make sure you get tested! As researchers agree that most common reason for alcohol intolerance is genetic - some people’s bodies simply unable to break down alcohol efficiently.
Other causes of general allergies to alcohol could be also attributed simply to allergens that may still reside in the final product: eggs or gelatine agents from fining and clarification, gluten or other crops used for spirits? Yeast residue might be also a cause.
Am I allergic to sulphites in wine?
If, like me, you have a suspicion that you may have been allergic to white wine but not red, it means tannins are not to blame, as a source of your sensitivity and it is probably the sulphites that are reeking all the havoc. A quick google search for natural wines that are made with no added sulphites, remove conventional wines from your diet and see how that fairs. Anyone who drinks these magica so called ‘sulphite free wines’ will feel better as there are no awful harmful chemicals voluntarily put into their bodies. Yet if you are sensitive to sulphites, it makes all sense to fully avoid them. That includes food too!
Red wine allergy symptoms
As with the previous suggestions, the most common issue is still sulphites that added in massive quantities to stabilise and preserve conventional wines. Try natural wines and see if it works. If it does, but not quite, it could be also caused by high levels of tannins. Just a quick tip here, look for something that has not been released in the last year. It has probably stabilised and settled over time in the bottle.
Red wine allergy itching (red Herbert itching) or red wine allergy sinus are most common symptoms of severe reaction to tannins. People who are allergic to other foods that trigger histamine reaction are sensitive. You may want to try low histamine wine - watch for grape varieties that have thin skins and not so much of colour depth. Think of Pinot Noir as you best friend, get a good bottle of such wine and check if it helps.
For both these causes headaches are most common symptom of a wine allergy. People who suffer can start feeling the effects as early as in 15 minutes, but some experience it as their ‘morning after’. People could have consumed just one glass of wine and feel bad the next morning. This is where the misconception that natural and even simply organic wine doesn’t give you a hangover comes from!
How to deal with wine allergy
Wine should always be enjoyed responsibly. We may have suggested that you buy and drink wine to find out how to offer you assistance, but remember, natural, organic, no added sulphites, whatever you chose to try it all still contains alcohol! In the best case it aids to your healthier lifestyle, physically, socially and by means of nutrients and antioxidants. Yet if you feel you are sensitive to sulphites in wine or tannins in red wine, try one of these:
  • start experimenting and making notes what triggers your reaction;
  • switch to natural wines without added sulphites, we believe that even completely healthy people should do so as well as nobody wants or needs to accumulate those preservatives in their bodies;
  • try low histamine, low tannin wines; people do have different taste preferences and if tannins are a cause of your allergic reaction, it would be easier to handpick a suitable wine for you;
  • go for good wines, not for the mass bulk produced. Remember, these wines do not need to be much more expensive, you can still find great artisan wines that were made simply as table wine if you shop around that are affordable and high quality. Organic wines have very strict regulations, both on avoiding artificial and harmful pesticides, but also on sulphites usage. Get healthier wines for a better you.

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