Healthy living * Allergies and hay fever

Discovery paves way for low-allergy wines

Discovery paves way for low-allergy wines Scientists identify ingredients similar to other known allergens

The health benefits of drinking wine in moderation are in debate, but millions of people all over the world drink wine regularly. But for some people wine can induce allergic reactions such as sneezing, headaches, skin rashes and other symptoms - symptoms distinct from those of a hangover caused by too much alcohol intake.

As much as 8 per cent of the population suffer from allergic reactions to wine. The presence of compounds containing sulphur - which are added to wine to stop it spoiling - account for only 1 percent of these allergies. The causes of the remaining 7 percent are unknown.

Some previous studies suggested that the culprits may be glycoproteins - proteins covered with sugar that are produced as a consequence of the fermentation process used to make wine from grapes.

So scientists from Denmark and Italy analysed the composition of a glass of Chardonnay wine. They discovered 28 of these glycoprotiens, which were introduced to the wine either from the original grapes or the yeast that causes the fermentation to occur.

Further investigation into the structure of the glycoprotiens found that some of them had molecular structures similar to known plant allergens.

These results, published in the ACS Journal of Proteome Research, provide a pointer to the development of new wine making techniques that could reduce or remove the allergens entirely.

But of course this will still not prevent hangover symptoms caused by over-indulgence.

This article was published on Thu 18 November 2010

Image © chiyacat -

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