LOTS of us like to enjoy tipple or two at this time of year, but is your penchant for wine leaving you feeling less than 'grape'? It could be an allergy, rather than a hangover, causing those unpleasant side-effects...

Fortunately, a true allergy to wine is extremely rare, though as anyone who has ever had a bit of a session will attest, it's entirely possible to display symptoms of it without being allergic.


While many of us suffer diarrhoea, headaches and skin flushes after too many drinks, for some, these may be signs of an underlying intolerance to wine and the grapes involved in the production (though the jury is still out on whether skin flushing is indicative of an allergy).

Those with the allergy may suffer cramps and difficulty breathing when they drink certain wines - though they may drink others and not have any reactions.


It's bad news for fans of red, as researchers found that those with the allergy tend to suffer more when they drink it as opposed to white wines or roses.

Rarely is the reaction caused by alcohol, more often it is the chemicals used in the wine-making process - that's the sulphites and histamines - to keep bacteria at bay and stop the plonk from going sour which are the culprits (though, again, it is very rare to be allergic to sulphites).

If you suffer from this allergy, you may also have a similar reaction to certain products that contain sulphites, like dried fruits, cider and pickled food.

And while it is very uncommon, allergyuk.org reports that some people with asthma, urticaria and rhinitis might be more prone to allergies to alcohol than others.


Short of corking your bottles, if you think you might be sensitive to wine, look out for those made using less of the preservative sulphites and histamines. Bear in mind that white wines and roses generally have higher levels of sulphites - as do some light-bodied reds - while reds tend to have higher levels of histamine.

Organic wines and biodynamic wines are a good starting point as these tend to be made with fewer chemicals, though many bottles do not display this info. Make a note of any drinks you've had - including the type of wine, as well as what you've eaten, so you can pinpoint the problem bottles, and as always, it's best to check with your GP if you have any concerns.