The Wine Allergy Puzzle

Over ten years ago a patient asked me if I could help her regain the ability to drink wine. She loved drinking wine – especially whites, but had given it up due to adverse reactions. A few years prior she started experiencing piercing headaches, foggy-headedness, and fatigue after a glass of wine or less. The next morning she would wake up exhausted, sore and achy.

To me this seemed like a fascinating puzzle and I became committed to studying how wine is metabolized in order to develop a solution for her wine intolerance symptoms. After a few weeks of research, I suggested a four-week clinical trial of a precisely targeted vitamin and mineral formula to determine if it would improve her wine tolerance. After a few weeks she was able to joyously savor her Gewürztraminer and “buttery” Chardonnays once more!

The journey of developing Vinami led me to discover seven compounds that contribute to wine intolerance. Furthermore, as I was treating people for their wine sensitivity an additional benefit became clear. Patients were telling me after taking Vinami they no longer experienced adverse reactions to perfumes, air fresheners, paint, and mold. They could now “eat the foods that always gave them trouble” without experiencing the usual array of adverse reactions!

As it turns out, the triggering compounds in wine that can make you suffer are also in the food you eat and the air you breathe! It doesn’t matter if you drink, eat, or breathe these compounds – if you cannot metabolize them effectively, you will suffer. Follow along my journey as I discovered the origins of wine and chemical sensitivity and the process that led me to develop my patent-pending formula: Vinami.

What Suffering From A Glass Of Wine Tells You About Your Health

Even if you don’t actually have this condition, you have probably heard people talk about it. People refer to it as wine allergy, wine intolerance, wine sensitivity, red wine headache, white wine headache, asian flush – what really is it?

It is not a hangover. In some people the symptoms of wine intolerance can be triggered by a couple of ounces of wine. Often it is a very particular grape variety or wine type that triggers adverse reactions. One person may savor their Sauvignon Blanc, yet suffer with a Gewürztraminer. Another may find a Chardonnay is good, but a single glass of Cab will result in a piercing headache and feelings of exhaustion along with joint and muscle pain the next morning.

So, what is it? There is an interesting mystery here that leads to a lot of opinions and a fair share of controversy.

What Is It About Wine?

Is it sulfites? Sulfites often come up, but a closer look is unconvincing. A few people react to sulfites, but too few are sensitive enough to account for how frequently people react to wine. Tannins and histamine have been blamed. Biogenic amines – tyramine and histamine – have been tagged as culprits too. Prostaglandins also have some science supporting their role as a troublemaker. Who is right? What are the actual triggers for wine intolerance?

Discovering Wine Intolerance Triggers

After my first patient experienced such overwhelmingly positive results from taking Vinami, the next time the issue of wine intolerance came up in a new patient history I was excited to see this patient experience the same relief. However, when she used the same vitamin and mineral formula…nothing – no relief – at all! So I went back to the “books” and clinical trials until we found an answer to her wine “problem.”

Chromosomes and Chemicals

Eventually, I was able to solve this wonderfully interesting and complicated puzzle. It became clear that the triggers for wine intolerance were not one – but many! Each person would have an individual pattern based on their unique genetic make-up. Results kept getting more predictable as I continued fine-tuning the formula.

As it turns out, these “triggers” are naturally occurring compounds in wine that come from the grape itself or are produced during fermentation and aging. These seven wine intolerance triggers include sulfites, phenolic compounds (tannins), aldehydes, prostaglandins (cause inflammation), histamines, tyramine, and miscellaneous chemicals (fusel oils, methanol, acetone).

I observed that each person suffering from wine intolerance developed a unique pattern of symptoms depending on their combination and degree of sensitivity to these seven compounds.

The Wine Intolerance & Food and Environmental Sensitivity Connection

As I was treating people for their wine sensitivity an additional benefit became clear. My patients would tell me they were no longer experiencing headaches for the rest of the day after riding the elevator at work with someone who was wearing too much perfume. They weren’t getting headaches after being around an air freshener, or new carpet, or paint. They could now do laundry in their “moldy” basement without feeling exhausted and achy all over. They could eat food that had MSG or other food additives without getting foggy-headed or spacey. They could “eat the foods that always gave them trouble” without experiencing the usual array of adverse reactions!

As it turns out, the triggering compounds in wine that can make you suffer are also found in the food you eat and the air you breathe! It doesn’t matter if you drink, eat, or breathe these compounds – if you cannot metabolize them effectively, you will suffer.

The Chemical Intolerance & Chronic Illness Connection

My clinical experience is parallel to the current research of chemical intolerance. People with chronic and complex illnesses that “fall through the cracks” due to a lack of findings from exams and lab testing are commonly either caused or complicated by chemical intolerance.

Health problems that often fit this pattern include fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, whole body inflammation and pain, depression, anxiety, intestinal and digestive problems, and problems with memory and concentration.

Approximately 10% of women and 6% of men have a chemical intolerance. The symptoms of chemical intolerance are widely varied and can be easily misdiagnosed as other common conditions. This misdiagnoses leaves many patients feeling frustrated at their lack of relief or improvement.

For example, if you have histamine sensitivity you will still experience adverse reactions whether you drink wine or eat foods that contain histamine. Symptoms of histamine intolerance can include headaches, anxiety, hives, rashes, eczema, insomnia, extreme fatigue, dizziness, and more. The “gut” symptoms from histamine intolerance are commonly diagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

If you’re sensitive to phenols – the family of compounds that include tannins – you’ll experience a number of reactions that are often misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome.

It’s Not a Mystery – It’s Genetics

You are sensitive to histamine if you don’t have enough of the required enzymes to break it down – diamine oxidase (DAO) and/or histamine N-methyltransferase (HNMT). The same goes for sensitivity to phenolic compounds. If your body does not product enough phenolsulfotransferase (PST), you will experience symptoms of phenol sensitivity.

The same is true for all of these compounds! If your body does not produce enough of the enzymes to break down these compounds and render them harmless — this means trouble for you! The genetic tendencies towards sensitivity to these compounds can be tested and the nutritional biochemistry of these enzyme systems is known.

Formulating A Solution

Patient mystery – interesting clinical puzzle – my knowledge of biochemistry and clinical nutrition – a clinical trial with multiple patients over time – the fine tuning of a nutritional formula over time. This is the background that encouraged me to understand that wine and chemical intolerance are one and the same. It is this knowledge that propelled me to develop the formula of vitamins, herbs, and plant extracts that is now Vinami.

Complete Relief 85% of the Time!

A small clinical observational study of patients who had quit drinking wine altogether due to the severity of their reactions had exciting results. The participants who were chosen for the study experienced severe reactions, including headaches, at 5 ounces of wine or less. The study revealed that 85% of participants were able to drink two 5oz glasses of wine without adverse reactions after six weeks of using Vinami.

A Range of Results From Using Vinami

  • Freedom from wine sensitivity
  • Improved environmental tolerance to chemicals
  • Improved food tolerance*
  • Improved digestion
  • Improved sleep and energy
  • Increased mental clarity
  • Diminished joint and muscle soreness and aching
  • Increased sense of well-being

*Note: It is common for food/chemical intolerance to be mistaken for food allergy


The mystery of wine intolerance ultimately led to larger mysteries and greater solutions. Discovering the triggers for wine and intolerance coupled with the current understanding of genetic predispositions and biochemistry for these chemical triggers led to the development of the vitamin, mineral, and plant extract formula of Vinami that supports metabolism and improves tolerance.