Are you allergic to wine?

While I no longer drink, there was a time when wine was my alcoholic beverage of choice. I never liked red wine because I always seemed to get a headache when I drank it. I was aware of others who shied away from red wine for the same reason, but none of us ever suspected that a headache could be a symptom of a wine allergy, or wine intolerance. It is now estimated that upwards of 7% of people are allergic, or intolerant to wine. Women have a higher incidence than men, and red wine seems to cause more trouble than white wines, but all types of wine can cause symptoms in people with wine allergies, or wine intolerance. What are some of the signs that you might have an allergy to wine?

  1. Headaches that occur after drinking even a portion of a glass of wine are a sign of a wine allergy. Along with the headache, a person who is allergic to wine may feel flushed, or have an irregular heart beat, or a drop in blood pressure. Red wine seems to cause headaches more often than white wine.

Cold symptoms are common in people with wine allergies, or intolerance. A stuffy or runny nose many occur along with a scratchy throat, and itchy eyes. While some people may mistake these symptoms for a cold, they are true allergy symptoms, not unlike seasonal allergy symptoms. Once again, red wine is more often linked with type of allergy symptoms.

Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are symptoms affect others who have a wine intolerance, or a wine allergy. While it is easy to write these types of gastrointestinal symptoms off to having had a little too much, they can occur after ingesting even a small amount of wine.

Hives may occur in some people with wine allergies. Hives are itchy, red, bumps that can pop up anywhere on the body. People who get hives after drinking wine many also have other food allergies. As a teen, I went through a period of time when I was in love with grape juice and drank a gallon of the stuff one day. I spent the remainder of the day at the doctors office, covered in hives that did not resolve until I had a steroid shot a week later. I never drank grape juice again, but it is little wonder red wine bothered me.

Many have felt in the past that wine allergies, especially red wine intolerance, is due to the sulfites in the wine. Sulfite allergies can become quite serious. A more recent study found that those who suffer from cold-like symptoms after drinking wine may be allergic to certain proteins in the wine that are produced during fermentation. Still others are allergic to the histamines in the wine, or are allergic to something that is used in making the wine, such as yeast, or grapes.

If you feel that you might have a wine allergy, or intolerance, consult a doctor to see if you can determine what in the wine is the source of the problem. A wine allergy, like all other allergies, can appear as mild at the start, but may become more severe over time. If you think you might have a wine allergy, it is best to avoid wine until you know for certain if you have a wine allergy.