Why 'L'haim' may come with an allergy

Grapes, barley, various fruits, and preservatives can all trigger allergic reactions to alcoholic beverages.

pouring wine glass 88 (photo credit: )
pouring wine glass 88
(photo credit: )
Wine may "gladden the human heart," as the but it is nevertheless causing an increasing incidence of allergies that are difficult to detect in patients because of their confusing symptoms. So say two allergy specialists at Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba and Tel Aviv University's Sackler School of Medicine, who note that it is especially common in asthmatics. In the latest issue of Harefuah, the Hebrew-language journal of the Israel Medical Association, Drs. Arnon Goldberg and Ronit Confino-Cohen of the hospital's allergy and clinical immunology unit presented a case study of a 47-year-old woman who suffered from recurring episodes of itchy eruptions on her skin and shortness of breath, which continued for an hour or two and went away without treatment. It was eventually discovered that her occasional drinking of white wine was to blame. She recalled that the incidents occurred only on Fridays, when she used to meet with friends at a cafe and drink Reisling; drinking sweet red kiddush wine did not cause the allergic reaction, she reported. Grapes, barley, various fruits, alcohol, preservatives such as sulfite, biogenic amines such as histamine, and other ingredients, they write, can all trigger allergic reactions to alcoholic beverages. Wine allergy can cause itching, runny nose, redness in the face, cough, headaches, breathing difficulties and even death in severe reactions, and affect the immune system's functioning - but these are typical allergy symptoms, and wine is not often fingered as the cause. The authors explain that very few people are actually allergic to the grapes that are turned into wine. It is the additives to this raw material that trigger reactions. There have been reports that about a quarter to a third of asthmatics who drink wine suffer from a worsening in their asthma attacks. In addition, asthmatics who drink are known to get less relief from conventional drugs given for asthma. The rise in Israeli wine consumption should induce doctors to be more aware of wine allergies, the report concludes.