Wine allergies

Man, I so did not even know wine allergies existed.

I had a glass of wine last night—McManis Cabernet Sauvignon to be exact—and not even a whole glass of wine but one of my wimpy half-a-glass deals. And when Simon woke me up at 4 in themorning I thought: I must be coming down with the flu or something. Stuffed nose, itchy eyes, sore throat, and generally feeling as though a steamroller had done its best to flatten me a couple hundred times during the night.

Darin let me sleep in today, and when I was finally conscious I said, Either I am coming down with the worst cold in the world, or there was something about that wine. So I clicked around a bit (the modern answer to every problem!) and discovered wine allergies.


The common question is “Can I be allergic to alcohol?” Although alcohol can be the culprit, it usually is not. The culprits are usually the additives used in the manufacturing process. Some of the possible culprits include:

    Brewers yeast







I am: bereft. It took me a while to prefer red wine over white wine (that is, to become a wine snob). And now this!

I assume that if any of those ingredients could cause this allergy then it’s not necessarily the wine that’s caused this head cold. But it’s not the kind of testing I want to do a lot of, you know?


  1. Tony says

    I have the requisite allergies mentioned by others hear. But I have found that I have NO allergic reaction to HARD CIDER. My sinuses and throat remain clear. Some of you may want to try this. If anyone knows why this works let me know.

  2. Annie T says

    I am wondering if there is a “mix” of specific grapes that causes the problems. I’ve had two serious episodes of dizziness, almost out of body feeling awful, and both followed the consumption of red wine with multiple grape varieties. Was it the sulphides? Was it a specific grape? Was it the actual combination of specific grapes?

  3. Patricia Victour says

    I found out the hard way that I was super-allergic to sulfites – should have been clued in, as years ago I had a rash from a sulfa drug (sulfa/sulfites – dude . . .) I was prescribed for some condition.

    Long story short, at 67 I was trying to give my old body a reprieve from beer and whiskey by drinking white wines, which I found didn’t have such bad hang-over effects while still delivering the “punch” that I want when I drink alcohol. Woke up one day with horrific hives all over my body. Sulfite allergy – figured that out myself – ER had NO IDEA.

    So, if you want to drink wine (I went back to Jim Beam and Bud, except when a friend brought this wine), go to Trader Joe’s and get the Well Red organic/no sulfites detected win from Heartswork Winery in CA.

  4. says

    I find myself in a terrible situation. I do have a sulfur allergy where years ago I broke out in huge hives and my face was swollen. As the years have gone by, I started drinking red wine. My face would get flushed very easily and I would limit my drinking to only one glass, possibly two because I would find my behavior getting out of control…getting mean. I’m truly a docile person and get along with others in public and at home. Yet, I try to only drink when I’m home and after having breast cancer a few years ago, totally fine now, and always having difficulties drinking I started to rely more on red wine in the evenings. I have become very combative and extremely mean and just ugly behavior with my husband at home when I drink wine, sometimes only one glass and certainly worse if it’s two or three. He is the dearest person in the world and loves me coompletely, as I love him but I may reaching at straws but I am wondering if the wine and sulfur allergy over the years have triggered a “Dr. Jekyl/Mrs. Hyde” reaction. If I drink one or two beers or any other drink I never react this way. Needless to say I no longer drink wine as it terrifes me but I am wondering if anyone else has experienced anything similar. I am ashamed as to how I have treated by husband and am doing my best to make it up to him but my last couple episodes have certainly changed his affection toward me, and understandably so because he is not sure who the real me is…..PLEASE if anyone else has expereinced complete mood swings on red wine & has a slfur allergy please let me know asap. Thanks!

  5. says

    Over the past couple of weeks I felt I was coming down with a cold. My ears and nose were completely congested to the point my hearing was bad and loud music and voices were irritating because of the vibration. I kept thinking to myself over that time frame that the symtoms were weird in this way: 1) I would be fine one day and then the congestion would start up the next day. In other words my congestion would come and go. 2) It lasted 3 weeks (usually the common cold last a week. 3) I didn’t have any fever–just cold symtoms. Finally, I had a glass of red wine the other night (italian mix) and after one glass my hearing and nose completely stopped up. It dawned on me I was having an allergic reaction. I searched the website and found this site. I’m not the only one. I’m 43 years old and have drank wine for about 20 years with no issues. However, I am allergic to other things like fish and shell fish. I break out in hives–histamines. It’s funny how you can live your entire life doing something and then “bam” your struck with a new allergy. Thanks for all your information. I’m a wino so I have some experimenting to do.

  6. says

    Having a wine allergy where I live is a bit like being a vegetarian in Italy, very very bad luck. If you are lucky enough not to suffer from either of the two, I can suggest a glass of “Testa Matta” by Bibi Graetz, alongside a really fat Bistecca alla Fiorentina!

  7. Quartz says

    Anything in the world can trigger an allergic reaction, wine being no exception.

    For me, it’s the pesticides (though it isn’t an allergy, but rather a sensitivity–the difference between the two is that an allergy is caused by a histamine response, a sensitivity is any other kind of reaction). I can have organic wine, organic grapes fine, but anything that’s been sprayed, migraine within ten minutes, and sick for hours to days afterward.

    Lawn chemical exposure–let’s just say spring in the midwest is hell. Get lovely fluid filled cysts in the breasts that make it hard to breathe, hell cramps and gushing periods (to the point where it’s medically defined as hemorrhaging), all because people have some bizarre, freakish phobia of a dandelion. And the same people wonder why their pets get mange hmm, right at the same time they spray their lawns. Must just be a spring allergy. Yeah, that’s right. The chemical man said the chemicals are harmless, therefore they must be, just like the tobacco industry used to claim cigarettes were not only harmless, but good for you.

    OK, semi-off-topic obsessive born-from-pain soapbox over, more useful information regarding this thread: some of you might well want to try organic wines if anyone carries them in your area, I know it makes a big difference for me.

  8. Ashley Faulkenberry says

    After drinking a glass I have noticed a small rash on my neck a chest but i shrugged it off like it was nothing bc I never thought it could be the wine but tonight at dinner I drank 2 sips of wine and my husband asked me if I was ok..little did I know that my face was completely red and swollen and I have hives on my chest and back. I took and allergy pill and now I know it is the wine and I’m just trying to figure out what in the wine is causing me to do this.

  9. Sarah says

    To San C-
    It is NOT a wine allergy. It is alcohol. Yes, it can make some folks become a mean demon because it is an intoxicant that makes the brain function in a way that is disinhibited. It does not translate you into your “real self” as a bad person. Everyone has a mean side. Being civil and socialized as a human makes us learn to curb our aggression. Alcohol can be more dininhibiting on some than others. You know, folks that work hard to project themselves as docile are folks tend to be the ones that do so because they unconsciously repress a very aggressive part of themselves – for good reason. I have also noticed that folks that have a flavor of Bipolar disorder in their family tend to gravitate to alcohol and may even become very out of control while intoxicated.
    Moral of the story – alcohol is not for everyone. Move on, your man will forgive – just stay away from the stuff and be the loving person you have worked in your life to be to him.