Red Wine Allergies

DISCLAIMER:  Reasons for Wine Allergies differ for everyone and the reasons are largely unproven.  Any and all suggested reasons are purely speculation and opinion.

Why am I allergic to wine?  Do I specifically have an allergy to red wine?  Most think they have an allergy to red wine because they have white wine allergy symptoms.   Some say they get headaches from wine, can turn your face red, ears red and even cause throbbing in areas of the face.  I’ve also heard of red wine congestion symptoms.  To be clear, I’m not personally allergic to red wine, but being a Sommelier, these are  issues I’m frequently asked in regard to wine and allergies.

Symptoms of Wine Allergies

-Feeling Flushed

-Turns face red

-Turns ears red

-Stuffy Nose or Congestion

-Wine Headaches

There are many symptoms you can show when having a wine allergy.  People report a variety of different reactions with having red wine allergies and while you could potentially show different wine allergy symptoms they aren’t the kind of reactions people have with a peanut or shellfish allergy, meaning wine allergies are not life-threatening; it’s just annoying and unfortunate because you can’t enjoy red wine.

Wine Allergies Causes




These are a few popular theories on why people have allergies to red wine or just general wine allergies.  Having a tannin allergy is probably the oldest theory that is pretty outdated.  I personally don’t believe people have a tannin allergy since most don’t realize that tannin in wine isn’t the only place we find tannins.  Coffee, tea, chocolate and other foods all have tannins.

Some believe they have wine allergies due to wine sulfite.  Sulfites are a preservative used in winemaking and it’s possible that elevated levels of wine sulfite can cause your allergy to wine.  Sulfites exit in red and white wine, but generally lower levels of sulfites in white wine which makes sense since white wine allergies are rarely reported.

Histamines in wine are another possible cause of your wine allergy and what I believe makes the most sense, more specifically for red wine allergies.  Histamines exist in the skins of wine grapes.  White wine sees little to no contact with the pressed juice during fermentation and red wine sees extended contact to the juice during fermentation; hence the histamines get extracted into the wine.

Histamines are the root of most general allergies, so if you have common allergies due histamines it makes sense you’d be allergic to the histamines in red wine.

Cure for Wine Allergies

Sadly, there is no cure for wine allergies.  You could try anti-histamines before drinking wine, but you need to make sure there’s no dangerous interaction between alcohol and the anti-histamine.

You can also try organic wine or bio-dynamic wine.  Organic wines generally don’t use sulfites in their wine (or at least low levels of sulfites), so if you’re indeed allergic to sulfites, organic or bio-dynamic wines are the way to go.

Yours truly,

-The Modern Somm

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