Did you read this wine allergy story from the United Kingdom?
"A teenager has developed a rare allergy that sends her into exhausting sneezing fit if she so much as smells a glass of wine."
The story continues: "Miss Miller said she used to be able to drink wine and suffered no other side effect other than feeling slightly light-headed, but then she began to suffer shooting pains. 'I would get terrible back cramps but then one day the sneezing started and it just has not stopped,' she said."
I've not heard of back cramps related to wine allergies before and I wonder about the rest of her diet and her whole health picture, which unfortunately was not reported.
Whether it's flushed cheeks or sniffles after a glass or two, many people report negative reactions to wine and liquor. However, according to the AAAAI:
"It is usually not the alcohol that produces the allergic reaction to the wine or beer. The other ingredients in the alcohol, such as yeast, sulfur dioxide, and additives are often the culprits."
This information has been so widely circulated that you can hear people say: "I'm not allergic to wine; I'm allergic to the sulfites in the wine." Many readers have asked me about organic or vegan wine thinking/hoping it would be sulfite free. However sulfites are naturally occurring in most wines. And most people are not allergic to sulfites. (The FDA reports that 1 out of 100 people are sensitive to sulfites. It also reported that 5% of people who have asthma would have a serious reaction to sulfites.) I'm allergic to sulfites; sulfite treated dried fruit equals instant chest tightness, yet I seldom have an allergic response to wine.
According to AAAAI: "The use of sulfur dioxide is not modern technology. Dating back to the fifteenth century, wine traders burned sulfur candles in their wine barrels prior to filling them. It is naturally produced by wine yeast in small quantities during fermentation. However, the majority of sulfur dioxide is added into the alcohol. The sulfur dioxide has strong anti-bacterial properties that help prevent bacteria and yeast from growing in the wine and to permit a longer aging process. Sulfur dioxide is used as a preserving agent in many foods, including dried fruits, baked goods, condiments, canned foods, shellfish, frozen shrimp, canned tomatoes, frozen potatoes, and fruit juices. If you do not experience a reaction to these foods, it may be another ingredient in the alcohol that is causing the allergic reaction."
Naturally occurring histamine may be the culprit causing most hay fever reactions to alcohol. "Histamine is another ingredient that is found in alcoholic beverages. Bacteria and yeast in the alcohol generate it. Histamine is also found in aged cheese, tuna, and meat. Histamine is a naturally occurring amine released by the body during allergic reactions. The histamine content in alcohol is very small and even less is absorbed when ingested. Excessive consumption of alcohol may cause a runny nose, stuffy nose, itchy, runny eyes, or worsening of one's asthma. Red wines often have a larger amount of histamines than white wines."
None of this goes to explain what was happening to the young woman in our UK story, back cramps, sneezing fits all from the smell of wine? An allergic mystery.
Published On: September 30, 2008