What Are the Signs of an Allergic Reaction to Wine?

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  • Written By: Alex Tree
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 16 October 2019
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Cold-like symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose and congestion, as well as flushing of the face, and difficulty breathing are commonly reported allergic reactions to wine. A flushed face is an often reported allergic reaction to wine that happens to people of certain ethnicities. Some allergists theorize that difficulty breathing is some of the true allergic reactions to the beverage, but it can also be caused by other things. Wine allergies are a controversial subject because, while eight percent of the population claims to have an allergic reaction to wine, experts in the field are skeptical about the allergy’s existence.

Having symptoms of the common cold are likely due to the histamines in wines. Histamines are a by-product of allergic reactions that trigger an inflammatory response. Drinking a wine can lead to sneezing, runny noses, and chest congestion because of its histamine content. Some people are more sensitive to histamines in wine than others, particularly people of Asian descent. Sulifites could also be the problem, but only 1 in 100 people react to sulfites.


Becoming flushed in the face is another commonly reported sign of an allergic reaction to wine. It is most often reported in people who are from East Asia. The histamines in wine are also likely to cause this reaction. Researchers are unsure of the exact cause because a lot of steps and chemicals are involved in the making of wine. What they do know is that a true allergy to the main ingredient in wine, grapes, is very rare.

Someone who is truly allergic to sulfites often experiences difficulty breathing when exposed to them. Sulfites are found in both wine and dried fruits, so if the person is allergic to dried apricots and wine, the allergen is most likely sulfites. Simply smelling the wine or fruit might be enough to get a reaction out of someone. Most wines contain sulfites, so a person allergic to wine is unlikely to find a wine that he or she does not react to.

A study in Northern Europe found that about eight percent of the population believe they have an allergic reaction to wine. Another study showed that only one percent of people have an allergic reaction to the sulfites in wine, which is believed to be the culprit of wine allergies. This leaves experts wondering what the other seven percent of Northern Europe is allergic to in wine, if anything. It is possible to have a negative reaction to wine without actually having an allergy.


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Post 3

@simrin-- I get nausea if I drink a lot of alcohol, but I don't get asthma like symptoms. The only issue I have is flushing, due to my Asian background. My face flushes with all alcohol, but more so with wine. It's not dangerous, just embarrassing.

Post 2

@simrin-- You might be allergic to sulfites. I have an allergy to sulfites and react the same way to wine. Sulfites are added to wines as a preservative.

Or you might have seasonal allergies and the histamine in wine might be triggering an infection. Do you experience more problems when you have wine in certain seasons?

You should talk to your doctor about this and get allergy tests done for sulfites.

Post 1

Does anyone experience nausea and asthma like symptoms after wine but not after other alcoholic drinks?

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