Headaches, allergies and wine

There is a great article in the Globe and Mail this week about what causes headaches in some people when they drink wine. Many people mistakenly blame tannins or sulphites for these allergic reactions. Apparently it turns out that the culprit is glycoproteins – proteins coated with sugars – that could be at the root of many wine allergies. Here is the link:


I have a theory. Many, many people report that they have no adverse reaction to consumer made wines while they do have reactions to commercial wines. I am wondering if it’s possible that our wines contain less of these glycoproteins than commercial examples. Makes sense to me!

Obviously, this is out of my realm of expertise and I would be open to any comments that might add to this interesting topic.

For now, I’m just happy that our wines seem (from my experiences) to provide an alternative to people who report these headaches.

…and I’m also glad that tannins and sulphites seem to have been exonerated. (What did they ever do to anyone, anyway? ;)

Steven Haynes
Noble Grape

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2 Responses to Headaches, allergies and wine

  1. Tim says:

    It’s a pretty good article, but it unfortunately leaves the impression that it’s possible to be allergic to sulphite (it is not) and leaves out the now-accepted role of bio-amines (found in wines that have been through malolactic fermentation) in provoking allergic response.

    Still, I look forward to seeing more research in this area–there’s always more to learn about wine!

  2. Nancy Yeats says:

    Its a good article Steve, but I also noticed there was no mention of the role in histamines in commercial wine making. My research showed that many commercial wineries use histamines to artificially “age” their red wines… (appparently this is especially true of Chilean wines ) Family and friends who had almost given up drinking red wines because of the severe headaches it caused have no problem at all drinking my home-made wine.

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