Itchy skin indicates intolerance to wine

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Wine allergy: Many cannot tolerate red wine

A still relatively unknown food allergy is wine intolerance. If an itchy rash and nasal congestion appear after drinking wine, the symptoms may indicate a wine allergy. This is reported by scientists from the University of Mainz, referring to a self-conducted study.

If the skin is red and itchy, the nose is also tight, there may be an intolerance to wine. These symptoms occur in people who have had one or more glasses of wine. They also complain of headaches, sneezing and difficulty breathing.

According to researchers at the University of Mainz, wine intolerance is more common than previously thought. To find out how many people suffer from this particular intolerance, the A experts conducted a survey study in Mainz. Of 948 randomly selected adult participants, 68 (7.2 percent) showed allergic symptoms after drinking wine beverages. Thus, this particular form of food intolerance occurs in a similar frequency to a pollen allergy, the researchers sum up in their study report. They rely on the corresponding study on the spread of hay fever and pollen allergy.

Rarely a real grape allergy
However, scientists at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz suspect that a wine allergy is only caused by a real grape allergy in individual cases. Subjects who stated that they were generally poorly tolerated by wine also suffered more frequently from allergic reactions after drinking beer or alcohol in general. There was also a slight increase in women: around 8.9 percent of the female survey participants said that they hardly or badly tolerated wine. Men stated 5.2 percent of the same. In addition, allergy symptoms were more common with red wine than with white wine.

Ingredients and proteins suspected
Wine contains the protein LPT, which among other substances is considered to be the cause. The protein is generally recognized in medicine as an allergen and can only be detected in red wine. However, other substances contained in wine are also conceivable, which can lead to complaints. According to the researchers, ingredients such as sulfites or biogenic amines such as histamine or tyramine can also play a role. Amines are small protein building blocks, so-called amino acids. The amines can be found in white wine in a somewhat higher concentration than in red wine. Intolerance to alcohol cannot be ruled out. "There can be other different causes for alcohol intolerance," said the research team.

For a long time, amino acids were filtered out of the wine to remove cloudiness. However, when the winegrowers found out that this also removed enjoyable flavors, many winegrowers left the proteins in the wine. The researchers now suspect that this will also explain an increase in allergenic substances.

In order to research the topic more intensively, further detailed study work is required, since the significance of the study is only limited. In addition, according to the study director Professor Heinz Decker, wine allergy research is “completely new territory”. So far it was not known how often wine intolerance occurs in the population. Only 948 of the 4000 questionnaires sent back. These included only 800 adults who consumed alcoholic beverages over the past year. 726 participants reported drinking about 3.6 glasses of wine a week. 467 people said they also had beer. A further 172 also regularly drank high-percentage products. (sb)

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Image: Anne Garti /

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