wine allergies - Printable Version

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- momthebomb - 12-16-2001 02:38 PM

I have been drinking Beringer White Zin for a couple of years. Sometimes I try other white wines, but mostly Zin.

The last bottle of Beringer I opened, I had about 2-3 glasses and developed a serious migraine headache within 3 hours. The next evening, I poured myself a glass from the same bottle and drank 1/2 of the glass and started to develop another headache. Do people become allergic or develop reactions to wine or do you think it was just a bad bottle?

- Bucko - 12-16-2001 02:54 PM

Histamine is almost always the culprit in red wine headaches or allergies. Histamine is found in the skins of all grapes. Since red wines are in contact with the skins for prolonged periods, they have much more histamine content than white wines. Sneezing, facial flushing, headache, diarrhea, skin itching, and shortness of breath are common symptoms occurring in patients intolerant to histamines after drinking one glass of red wine.

The role of histamine in wine intolerance was evaluated in one medical study. They challenged the patients with 125 ml red wine (equivalent to 50 micrograms histamine), then blood samples were drawn before and after 15 and 30 minutes. Plasma histamine was assessed by a radioimmunoassay. 79% of the patients had symptoms, showing significantly higher plasma histamine levels 30 minutes after the wine challenge compared to controls. Histamine levels were assessed on 52 wines (red, white, and champagne) and in 17 beers by radioimmunoassay. Histamine levels ranged up to 120 micrograms/l in white wines; 670 micrograms/l in champagnes; 3800 micrograms/l in red wines; and 305 micrograms/l in beers. Histamine appears to be causing the wine intolerance.

Patients intolerant to wine seem to have diminished histamine degradation probably based on a deficiency of diamine oxidase or a lack of the enzyme. Diamine oxidase is localized in the jejunal mucosa (gut lining) and is the most important enzyme metabolizing histamine. A histamine-free diet is the treatment of choice for patients with histamine intolerance and chronic headache. As supportive treatment, vitamin B6 (pyridoxal phosphate) appears useful in histamine-intolerant patients, as pyridoxal phosphate seems to be crucial for diamine oxidase activity.

Taking a non-sedating antihistamine such as Allegra or Claritin before drinking wine may eliminate any potential problems. Please consult your Family Physician or Allergist (hopefully not a tee-totaller), and take a copy of this article with you.

- Thomas - 12-16-2001 04:05 PM

Bucko, why haven't you posted that one before? Great stuff.

To add to what Bucko posted, since you had not had the headache experience before with the same wine, it is also possible that you had at the time a minor head cold, which would increase your histamine levels and could react with histamine build up from wine just enough to produce a headache. I have a cold right now and I get a severe headache if I consume more than one glass of red wine, a headache I do not get when I do not have a cold.

It is two glasses of white for me tonight...

- Bucko - 12-16-2001 08:16 PM

Getting lazy I guess....

- winedope - 12-16-2001 10:54 PM

in addition to the excellent info already posted here : sometimes it takes your body a period of time to react to an allergen. In other words, over time your body can develop a problem with something (be it food/drink or medication, for example) and it can take less and less exposure to create a stronger and stronger reaction to the stimulus- therefore your headache with a smaller intake of this wine. As has been said, it wqould be best for you to pursue this with your doctor- to find out what is really going on...WD