What are the symptoms of allergy to wine

Exactly what causes the immune system to error harmless proteins as a threat is unclear but some things are thought to increase your risk of a food allergy.

Family history

If you own a parent, brother or sister with an allergic condition – such as asthma, eczema or a food allergy – you own a slightly higher risk of developing a food allergy.

What are the symptoms of allergy to wine

However, you may not develop the same food allergy as your family members.

Other allergic conditions

Children who have atopic dermatitis (eczema) in early life are more likely to develop a food allergy.

What Causes an Alcohol Allergy?

People with an alcohol allergy experience a reaction after as little as 1 milliliter of pure alcohol or a mouthful of wine or beer (about 10 milliliters). Why some people experience allergic reactions to alcohol – when little amounts are already produced by the body naturally – is yet unknown to researchers.

What are the symptoms of allergy to wine

However, in some cases, severe reactions to alcohol are mistaken for allergies when the culprit is Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph nodes.

Other foods that may cause an alcohol allergy are:

  1. Cough syrup
  2. Tomato puree
  3. Overripe fruit that has fermented
  4. Food marinades
  5. Mouthwash

Doctors are capable to diagnose an allergy based on the production of antibodies.

Antibodies known as immunoglobulin E (IgE) cause an allergic reaction in the body accompanied by common allergic reaction symptoms. Also, skin and blood tests are capable to measure immune system responses to certain substances.

Ingredients in Alcohol that May Cause a Reaction

To determine if an ingredient in alcohol is the cause of sickness, always check the label. However, beware that some ingredients may not be listed.

Type of Allergy Ingredients and Types of Alcohols Affected
Gluten Barley, wheat, hops, and rye are common ingredients in beer, vodka, whiskey, gin, and bourbon.
Histamines Red wine is high in histamines, and yeast in some alcohols can produce them.
Grapes Though rare, some grape proteins can cause a reaction after drinking wine, champagne, Armagnac, cognac, vermouth, port, pre-mixed martinis, wine coolers, and some premium vodkas.
Fining agents Used to remove little particles from wine.

What are the symptoms of allergy to wine

These may include egg, milk, or fish proteins.

Sodium metabisulfite Known as additives 220 and 221. These own been used as preservatives in beer and wine since the Roman era. They produce asthmatic reactions in about 10% of those with asthma.
Tree nuts Some bourbons and whiskeys are fermented in oak (or other tree) barrels, which can produce a reaction. Numerous distillates and extracts also contain nuts.

Is There Treatment for an Alcohol Allergy?

Just as there are no true cures for pollen or food allergies, there is no cure for an alcohol allergy.

In fact, treatment for an alcohol allergy will focus primarily on any present symptoms (i.e.

What are the symptoms of allergy to wine

alleviating rashes with a topical cream). Beyond that, an individual must avoid drinking completely to prevent suffering the symptoms of an allergic reaction and possible death.

Alcohol Allergy vs. Alcohol Intolerance

The primary difference between an alcohol allergy and an alcohol intolerance is the reaction each produces. Alcohol allergies are caused by the immune system and intolerance is a reaction from the digestive system. Generally, an alcohol intolerance is a reaction to one of the ingredients in alcohol and not necessarily the ethanol itself.

Symptoms of alcohol intolerance include:

  1. Nausea or vomiting
  2. Low blood pressure
  3. Diarrhea
  4. Red, flushed face
  5. Increased heart rate
  6. Headaches
  7. Hives
  8. Runny or stuffy nose
  9. Aggravation of asthma

People of Asian descent are more likely to experience the symptoms of alcohol intolerance due to a genetic variant resulting from the domestication of rice in southern China centuries ago.

An enzyme known as aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH2) is responsible for turning ethanol into acetic acid (a primary compound in vinegar) within the liver. Those of Asian ancestry may own the less-active variant of ALDH2, making it more hard for them to properly digest alcohol. ALDH2 Deficiency, as it is known, is a common cause of alcohol intolerance.

What Are the Symptoms of an Alcohol Allergy?

The symptoms of an alcohol allergy include:

  1. Collapse
  2. Difficulty breathing
  3. Stomach pain or cramps
  4. Rash
  5. Anaphylaxis (including rapid, feeble pulse, and nausea)

Finding Treatment

Just as treatment for an alcohol allergy requires entire abstinence, recovery from an alcohol use disorder calls for the same.

Don’t be afraid to enquire for assist. Talk with a treatment specialist today to start your road to recovery.

  1. Medical Reviewer — Final Reviewed: May 20, 2019
    David Hampton

    ✓All of the information on this sheet has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

    Learn more about David Hampton

  2. Author — Final Edited: July 24, 2019

    Destiny Bezrutczyk

    Fate Bezrutczyk is a Digital Content Author from west Iowa. She earned a Bachelor’s in English Language and Literature from Texas Tech University. After working as a freelance script and blog author, she began writing content for tech startups.

    Maintaining a passion for words, she took on a variety of projects where her writing could assist people (especially those battling mental health and substance use disorders). Today, she enjoys science fiction, trivia, and the beach.

  3. Sources

    Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy. (2015). Alcohol allergy. Retrieved on September 12, 2018 at https://www.allergy.org.au/patients/product-allergy/alcohol-allergy

    Healthline. (2018). Alcohol Allergies. Retrieved on September 12, 2018 at https://www.healthline.com/health/allergies/alcohol

    Huffington Post.


    What are the symptoms of allergy to wine

    Tired of Morning Hangovers? You Could Be Allergic to Alcohol. Retrieved on September 12, 2018 at https://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-tim-mainardi-/alcohol-allergies_b_4769469.html

    Mayo Clinic. (2018). Alcohol Intolerance. Retrieved on September 12, 2018 at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alcohol-intolerance/symptoms-causes/syc-20369211

    Web MD. (2017). Do I Own an Allergy to Alcohol? Retrieved on September 12, 2018 at https://www.webmd.com/allergies/alcohol-allergy#1

If you feel ill after eating a red or yellow snow cone, after a Chinese restaurant meal, or following a glass of red wine, you're not imagining your symptoms.

While foods such as wheat, milk, soy, and peanuts are common sources of food allergies, it's also possible to be allergic to food additives such as food dyes, MSG, and sulfites.

While grand care is taken by the U.S. Food and Drug Association to ensure that every ingredients in foods sold in supermarkets are safe to eat for the majority of people, there are numerous people who remain sensitive to some of the additives.

What are the symptoms of allergy to wine

Food dye allergies are rare, being found in only about 4% of people with allergies, but they still can be the source of grand concern.

Food additives

It’s rare for someone to have an allergic reaction to food additives. However, certain additives may cause a flare-up of symptoms in people with pre-existing conditions.


Sulphur dioxide (E220) and other sulphites (from numbers E221 to E228) are used as preservatives in a wide range of foods, especially soft drinks, sausages, burgers, and dried fruits and vegetables.

Sulphur dioxide is produced naturally when wine and beer are made, and is sometimes added to wine.

Anyone who has asthma or allergic rhinitis may react to inhaling sulphur dioxide.

What are the symptoms of allergy to wine

A few people with asthma own had an attack after drinking acidic drinks containing sulphites, but this isn’t thought to be extremely common.

Food labelling rules require pre-packed food sold in the UK, and the relax of the European Union, to show clearly on the label if it contains sulphur dioxide or sulphites at levels above 10mg per kg or per litre.


Benzoic acid (E210) and other benzoates (E211 to E215, E218 and E219) are used as food preservatives to prevent yeasts and moulds growing, most commonly in soft drinks. They happen naturally in fruit and honey.

Benzoates could make the symptoms of asthma and eczema worse in children who already own these conditions.

Sheet final reviewed: 15 April 2019
Next review due: 15 April 2022

What Is An Alcohol Allergy?

An alcohol allergy is a toxic reaction to alcohol, or ethanol more specifically.

Allergies to alcohol are fairly unusual but can be fatally serious. The effects of alcohol on the body, as a central nervous system depressant, are hardly beneficial. In addition to physical and mental impairment, flushed skin, nausea, and headaches are typical bodily reactions to alcohol consumption. These symptoms lead numerous to misdiagnose themselves with an alcohol allergy – instead of an intolerance to ingredients within alcohol.

Non-IgE-mediated food allergy

There’s another type of food allergy known as a non-IgE-mediated food allergy, caused by diverse cells in the immune system.

This is much harder to diagnose as there’s no test to accurately confirm non-IgE-mediated food allergy.

This type of reaction is largely confined to the skin and digestive system, causing symptoms such as heartburn, indigestion and eczema.

In babies, a non-IgE-mediated food allergy can also cause diarrhoea and reflux, where stomach acid leaks up into the throat.

The rise in food allergy cases

The number of people with food allergies has risen sharply over the past few decades and, although the reason is unclear, other allergic conditions such as atopic dermatitis own also increased.

One theory behind the rise is that a typical child’s diet has changed considerably over the final 30 to 40 years.

Another theory is that children are increasingly growing up in «germ-free» environments.

This means their immune systems may not get sufficient early exposure to the germs needed to develop properly. This is known as the hygiene hypothesis.

The immune system

The immune system protects the body by producing specialised proteins called antibodies.

Antibodies identify potential threats to your body, such as bacteria and viruses.

What are the symptoms of allergy to wine

They signal your immune system to release chemicals to kill the threat and prevent the spread of infection.

In the most common type of food allergy, an antibody known as immunoglobulin E (IgE) mistakenly targets a certain protein found in food as a threat. IgE can cause several chemicals to be released, the most significant being histamine.


Histamine causes most of the typical symptoms that happen during an allergic reaction.

For example, histamine:

  1. affects nerves in the skin, causing itchiness
  2. causes little blood vessels to expand and the surrounding skin to become red and swell up
  3. increases the quantity of mucus produced in your nose lining, which causes itching and a burning sensation

In most food allergies, the release of histamine is limited to certain parts of the body, such as your mouth, throat or skin.

In anaphylaxis, the immune system goes into overdrive and releases large amounts of histamine and numerous other chemicals into your blood. This causes the wide range of symptoms associated with anaphylaxis.


In children, the foods that most commonly cause an allergic reaction are:

  1. wheat
  2. milk – if a kid has an allergy to cows’ milk, they’re probably allergic to every types of milk, as well as infants’ and follow-on formula
  3. soya
  4. eggs
  5. peanuts

In adults, the foods that most commonly cause an allergic reaction are:

  1. fish
  2. tree nuts – such as walnuts, brazil nuts, almonds and pistachios
  3. peanuts
  4. shellfish – such as crab, lobster and prawns

However, any type of food can potentially cause an allergy.

Some people own allergic reactions to:

  1. fruit and vegetables – these generally only cause symptoms affecting the mouth, lips and throat (oral allergy syndrome)
  2. sesame seeds
  3. pine nuts (a type of seed)
  4. celery or celeriac – this can sometimes cause anaphylactic shock
  5. mustard
  6. gluten – a type of protein found in cereals
  7. meat – some people are allergic to just one type of meat, while others are allergic to a range of meats; a common symptom is skin irritation