The Seven Causes of Wine Allergy

The Seven Causes of Wine Allergies

What is it about wine?

Have you ever wondered why you or someone you know gets headaches or has other problems from drinking wine? Well, a lot of wine experts have written about the problem, proposed all kinds of theories, and fingered a number of culprits. Are any, all, or none of them right?

What about sulfites? We’ve heard a lot about these over the years. Are tannins to blame? They are higher in reds, especially bold reds, and some people definitely have more trouble with reds than whites. Then it has to be the histamines! Some experts blame the tyramines – those are the real culprit?

So what is the problem?

There are seven…

There are seven different compounds that can trigger headaches and other symptoms of wine sensitivity – sulfites, tannins, histamines, prostaglandins, tyramines, aldehydes, and congeners.

All of these compounds are naturally in wine and any of them can trigger a reaction like headaches. When you react to wine it is because you aren’t breaking down, or metabolizing, one or more of these compounds effectively.

Genetics, Metabolism, and Wine

Why? Genetics! Many of these compounds are broken down, or metabolized, by your liver. And, some people, because of their genetics, don’t break these compounds down efficiently, they don’t get cleared out of circulation, and they then trigger trouble. And – sorry ladies – mens’ livers break all this stuff down faster – it’s not fair, I know, and it’s why more women than men suffer reactions to wine.


Sulfites are naturally found in wine and more is often added to control fermentation and prevent spoilage. White wines, especially sweet white wines, have the most sulfates.


Tannins bring bitterness, astringency, body, color, and bouquet to wine. Red wines are higher in tannins than whites and the bigger and bolder the wine the higher the tannins. When these are the wines that give you the most trouble it is probably the tannins that are causing it.


Prostaglandins are produced by yeasts during fermentation and can cause inflammation and pain. If you have noticed that taking over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs gives you relief from your wine headaches, the trigger is probably the prostaglandins.


Histamines are most concentrated in red wines because of the more prolonged contact with grape skins during production. It is also produced during fermentation. If you have noticed that you react to wine less after taking an antihistamine, then histamine in wine might be the culprit.


Tyramines are a product of fermentation and are highest in robust red wines. If you notice that eating cheeses, aged or smoked meats, and chocolate along with your wine is more likely to cause a reaction, tyramines are the likely trigger.


Aldehydes are a product of fermentation and they play a role in softening the tannins during maturation. Usually if the aldehydes in wine give you trouble you will also react to perfumes, smoke. mold, and volatile organic chemicals (VOCs).


Congeners are produced during fermentation. These include fusel oils, acetone, and methanol. The fusel oils add nuance to the body, taste, and bouquet of wine. Acetone and methanol are toxic by nature, but their extremely low concentration in wine makes them an irritant, a trigger for wine sensitivity, rather than a toxin.

What to do about wine headaches?

Support your metabolism so you can drink wine! Vinami is a nutritional formula specifically designed to support metabolism of wine compounds. Use of Vinami increases your tolerance to wine and allows you to enjoy the many benefits of moderate wine drinking.

Do this instead of avoiding wines. Why? The compounds that trigger wine reactions are all around you – you can’t avoid them. They are in the foods you eat and the air you breath. They limit your health; they give you symptoms. Most likely you just haven’t been able to tie your symptoms to your exposure.

Taking care of your sensitivities in wine will make you generally healthier and feel better! And, you get to drink wine, too!