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While moderate alcohol consumption can have a beneficial effect on your health, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, opting for wine might cause side effects. The sulfites and histamines in wine might cause adverse effects, and they are the chemicals typically responsible for allergic reactions. Watch out for these symptoms the next time you enjoy wine, they might indicate that you have a wine allergy.

Sulfite Sensitivity

The asthmatic symptoms connected to sulfites may range from wheezing to serious reactions that could be life-threatening, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Anaphylactic shock is a potentially fatal allergic reaction to people who are extremely sensitive to certain substances. The symptoms appear suddenly and may include itching, swelling, a drop in blood pressure and difficulty in breathing. It happens rarely in people who are allergic to sulfites. The reactions usually occur while the person is consuming a sulfite-contain product such as wine, and may have to do with the inhalation of sulfur dioxide within the sulfites.


Headaches, facial flushing, irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure and asthma are the most common reactions for people with wine allergies. These effects may be brought on not only by sulfites but also by other additives in the making of wine. Some wine manufacturers have taken note of this and have changed their process to produce products that may not cause these allergic reactions. Red wine in particular causes the allergic reactions, according to the University of Bath Students’ Union Wine Society in England. Sweeter wines tend to have more sulfites to help preserve the sugar content. Sulfites are antibacterial agents and make good preservatives for wine. Headaches can develop within 15 minutes of drinking wine. The so-called "red wine headache" can occur after drinking less than one glass for people with allergies. There may also be nausea and flushing along with the headaches. Some wines produce these effects and others do not.


Sulfites may not be the only culprit in wine. There are people who may suffer allergic reactions to the histamines that occur naturally in fermented products. Their reactions can occur after consuming other products that contain histamines, as well. More research is needed regarding ingredients in wines that cause these reactions, according to the Bath Students’ Union Wine Society. There may be other potential causes that are not known now.