Do you know anyone who gets itchy or sniffley after a glass of wine? About 8% of people experience unfortunate side effects like congestion, a skin rash, or a headache with wine. Sulfites added to assist preservation are often blamed, but recent research suggests that other compounds may, in fact, be responsible.
According to a study published by researchers at the University of Southern Denmark, the glycoproteins (protein molecules with sugars attached) produced during fermentation may be the culprit. They found that at a molecular level these proteins closely resembled several known allergens. Specifically, they were very similar to proteins found in ragweed that cause hay fever as well as other allergens present in olives, latex, and pears.
The study analyzed just one type of Italian Chardonnay, so it’s unclear how broadly applicable these results are. However, similar proteins are likely found in most wines. This knowledge may enable to someday make hypoallergenic wines by developing techniques that limit the formation of the offending glycoproteins.