It is a difficult question even for a seasoned medical professional. Yet if you’ve noticed that after just one glass of wine you experience nasal congestion, breathing difficulties, swelling of the lips or mouth, or even vomiting then the answer is probably yes.
Research from Johannes Gutenberg University has shown that alcohol intolerance is quite common - nearly 25% of their respondents experienced some of the above symptoms. Study has also revealed that women are twice as likely to suffer from wine allergies.
As UK promotes Allergy Awareness Week from 23rd to 30th April 2017, we simply cannot miss an opportunity to draw your attention to wine allergy issue. After all, more than 2.5 million Britons are suffering from it.
Imagine you can drink a few glasses of wine without allergic reactions and with no headaches or hangovers that are triggered by excessive use of sulphites and preservatives?
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) or simply opting for a white wine (even if just to check whether it is the cause or not).
Sulphites in wine are added by many mass market wine producers. Opt for a natural wine made with no added sulphites to check whether you have an issue with sulphites. Unfortunately there is no such thing as sulphite free wine as some minor amounts occur naturally in every wine, but those would be tiny tiny quantities you won’t feel.
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 or allergic to alcohol in general. Unfortunately we cannot recommend anything for the latter case as researchers agree that most common reason for alcohol allergy or intolerance is genetic - some people’s bodies simply unable to break down alcohol efficiently.
Other causes of general allergy to alcohol could be also attributed 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. You can significantly reduce your sensitivity or allergic reaction to alcohol by choosing products made without allergens.
If you have had a suspicion that you may have been allergic to white wine but not red, it means that we eliminate tannins as a source of your sensitivity and it is probably sulphites that causing all the havoc. Browse around for natural wines that are produced with no added sulphites, eliminate conventional wines from your diet and see if it works. Anyone who drinks these so called sulphite free wines will feel better as there are no nasty chemicals consumed by their bodies. Yet if you are sensitive to sulphites, it makes all sense to fully avoid them.
As with the previous recommendations, most common issue is still sulphites 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.
Red wine allergy itching or red wine allergy sinus are most common symptoms of adverse 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 of 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 really bad the next morning.
Wine should be enjoyed responsibly and in that case it aids to your healthier lifestyle, both 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:
World Health Organisation recommends that only 0.7mg/l of sulphites (sulfites) should be consumed per 1 kg of weight per day. It means that an adult of 70kg weight, who bought natural wine that contains 30 mg/l naturally occurring sulphites can have a few large glasses of wine (up to half bottle). Obviously, when conventional wines containing over 150 mg/l it means much more harm to your body.
See even more information in our free wine guides: Wine Intolerance; Sulphites in wine; Sulphite free wine: for whom? 4 Reasons to switch to natural wines. 7 Myths of natural wines without sulphites added
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