Allergic to White Wine? Here’s What You Can Take

Do you get a stuffy nose, itchy skin, or a headache after enjoying a glass of white wine? You may have a white wine allergy. Allergies to wine are not uncommon, and they can be frustrating for those who love to indulge in a glass of vino. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to counter your white wine allergy symptoms and enjoy your favorite beverage without any discomfort.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about white wine allergies. We’ll discuss the symptoms of a white wine allergy, why you might be allergic to white wine, and some remedies you can use to alleviate your symptoms. We’ll also talk about some lifestyle changes you can make to avoid white wine allergies altogether.

If you’re tired of avoiding your favorite white wine, keep reading to learn more about how you can enjoy it without the discomfort of an allergy.

Understanding the White Wine Allergy

If you’ve ever experienced symptoms like a headache, hives, or nasal congestion after drinking white wine, it’s possible that you have a white wine allergy. Unlike a hangover, which is often associated with excessive alcohol consumption, an allergy is caused by your immune system’s response to a specific allergen found in white wine.

The culprit behind your white wine allergy could be sulfites, a preservative commonly used in white wine. While sulfites are naturally produced during fermentation, some winemakers also add extra sulfites to help preserve the wine’s flavor and color. In addition to sulfites, other compounds like histamines and tyramine found in white wine can also trigger allergic reactions in some individuals.

It’s worth noting that white wine allergies are relatively rare, and not everyone who experiences symptoms after drinking white wine is necessarily allergic. However, if you’ve noticed a pattern of symptoms after drinking white wine, it may be worth investigating further to determine if an allergy is the root cause.

If you suspect that you have a white wine allergy, it’s important to talk to your doctor or allergist to get a proper diagnosis. In the next sections, we’ll explore the common symptoms of white wine allergy and some over-the-counter remedies and lifestyle changes you can make to counter the symptoms.

Sensitivities vs. Allergies

When it comes to white wine, many people may experience adverse reactions, but not all reactions are true allergies. Understanding the difference between a sensitivity and an allergy is crucial in finding the right treatment. Sensitivities are less severe and usually involve symptoms like headaches, nausea, or flushing. Allergies, on the other hand, involve an immune system response that can range from mild to life-threatening.

  1. Allergy symptoms: Some of the common symptoms of a white wine allergy include hives, swelling, itching, or a rash. In severe cases, an individual may experience difficulty breathing or anaphylaxis.
  2. Sensitivity symptoms: Sensitivities may involve symptoms such as headache, redness of the face, nausea, or an upset stomach. The symptoms usually go away once the person stops drinking white wine.
  3. Diagnostic tests: If you suspect a white wine allergy, your doctor may recommend diagnostic tests like skin prick tests, blood tests, or a food challenge test to confirm the diagnosis.
  4. Treatment: Treatment for white wine sensitivities involves avoiding white wine or drinking in moderation. However, allergies may require a more targeted approach, such as medication, immunotherapy, or an emergency epinephrine shot.

It is important to remember that even if you have a sensitivity and not an allergy, it can still cause discomfort and affect your quality of life. It’s always best to consult with your healthcare provider to determine the root cause of your symptoms and the best course of treatment.

Causes of White Wine Allergy

Histamines: White wine is high in histamines, which can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Histamines are produced by bacteria and yeast during the fermentation process of wine.

Sulfites: Sulfites are a natural byproduct of fermentation and are commonly used as a preservative in white wine. They can cause allergic reactions in some people, especially those who are sensitive to sulfites.

Proteins: White wine contains proteins such as albumin and casein, which can trigger an allergic reaction in some individuals. These proteins are found in the grape skins and seeds and can leach into the wine during the winemaking process.

Other compounds: Other compounds found in white wine, such as tyramine and phenylethylamine, can also cause an allergic reaction in some individuals.

How White Wine Allergy Develops

White wine allergy develops as a result of histamine intolerance. The histamines in wine can lead to a range of symptoms such as flushing, itching, and hives. When the body is unable to break down the histamines, it can trigger an allergic reaction. Additionally, white wine contains a protein known as lipid transfer protein (LTP), which can also cause an allergic reaction.

It’s important to note that some individuals may develop an allergy to white wine over time, while others may have an immediate allergic reaction after just one glass. The development of an allergy may also be related to genetics, as some individuals may have a predisposition to allergies.

Another factor that may contribute to the development of a white wine allergy is exposure to other substances. Individuals who are allergic to certain foods or environmental allergens may be more likely to develop an allergy to white wine. Furthermore, individuals who have a history of asthma, hay fever, or eczema may be more susceptible to developing allergies in general.

Common Symptoms of White Wine Allergy

If you are allergic to white wine, you may experience a variety of symptoms. These can range from mild to severe, depending on the severity of the allergy. Here are some of the most common symptoms:

Rash: One of the most common symptoms of a white wine allergy is a skin rash. This can appear as red, itchy bumps on the skin, or as a more widespread rash.

Swelling: Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat is another common symptom of a white wine allergy. This can be accompanied by difficulty breathing or swallowing.

Headache: Some people who are allergic to white wine may experience headaches, which can range from mild to severe.

Stomach problems: Stomach issues, such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, can also occur in people with a white wine allergy.

Anaphylaxis: In severe cases, a white wine allergy can cause anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include difficulty breathing, swelling of the throat or tongue, a rapid pulse, and a drop in blood pressure.

If you experience any of these symptoms after drinking white wine, it is important to seek medical attention right away. Your doctor can help determine if you have a white wine allergy and recommend appropriate treatment.

Skin Reactions

Hives: Hives or urticaria is a common skin reaction caused by white wine allergy. It is characterized by raised, itchy, red welts or bumps that appear on the skin. The hives can range from small dots to large patches and can be very uncomfortable.

Angioedema: Angioedema is a more severe skin reaction that can occur as a result of white wine allergy. It is characterized by swelling of the deeper layers of the skin and can occur around the eyes, lips, hands, and feet. This swelling can be painful and can last for several days.

Flushing: Flushing or redness of the skin is a common symptom of white wine allergy. It is characterized by a warm, red, and sometimes itchy rash that appears on the skin. Flushing can occur on the face, neck, chest, and back and can be accompanied by a feeling of warmth or burning.

Eczema: Eczema or atopic dermatitis is a chronic skin condition that can be triggered by white wine allergy. It is characterized by red, itchy, and inflamed skin that can appear on different parts of the body, including the face, hands, and feet. Eczema can be very uncomfortable and can cause significant discomfort and distress.

Photosensitivity: Some people may experience photosensitivity or a heightened sensitivity to sunlight as a result of white wine allergy. This can cause the skin to become red, itchy, and irritated when exposed to sunlight, and can increase the risk of sunburn and skin damage.

Respiratory Symptoms

White wine allergy can also cause respiratory symptoms, such as asthma and shortness of breath.

In some cases, it can even lead to an anaphylactic reaction, which is a severe and life-threatening allergic reaction. Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical attention and can cause symptoms such as wheezing, difficulty breathing, low blood pressure, and loss of consciousness.

If you experience any respiratory symptoms after consuming white wine, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately.

Gastrointestinal Symptoms

If you experience gastrointestinal symptoms after drinking white wine, it may be a sign of a white wine allergy. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and can include:

  • Abdominal pain: Pain in the abdominal area can be a sign of an allergic reaction to white wine.
  • Nausea: Feeling sick to your stomach after drinking white wine may indicate an allergy or intolerance.
  • Vomiting: Some people may experience vomiting as a result of a white wine allergy.
  • Diarrhea: Digestive upset, such as diarrhea, can occur after drinking white wine.

If you experience these symptoms after drinking white wine, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider to determine if you have a white wine allergy or intolerance. Your healthcare provider can help you develop a plan to manage your symptoms and avoid further reactions.

Over-The-Counter Remedies to Counter White Wine Allergy

Antihistamines: One of the most commonly used over-the-counter (OTC) remedies to counter white wine allergy symptoms is antihistamines. They help block histamines released by the immune system, thereby reducing symptoms such as itching, swelling, and rashes.

Decongestants: If you experience respiratory symptoms such as stuffy or runny nose, you can take OTC decongestants. They help reduce inflammation in the nasal passages, making it easier to breathe.

Saline Nasal Sprays: Saline nasal sprays are another OTC remedy that can help reduce respiratory symptoms. They help flush out irritants such as allergens, dust, and pollen from the nasal passages, reducing congestion and inflammation.


Antihistamines are a commonly used medication for treating white wine allergies. These medications work by blocking the histamine receptors in the body that cause the allergic reaction. Some common over-the-counter antihistamines include loratadine, cetirizine, and fexofenadine.

It is important to note that while antihistamines can provide relief from symptoms such as itching and hives, they do not treat the underlying cause of the allergy. Additionally, they can cause side effects such as drowsiness, dry mouth, and dizziness.

It is recommended to consult with a healthcare provider before taking any new medications, especially if you have any preexisting medical conditions or take other medications that may interact with antihistamines.


Decongestants are medications that help relieve nasal congestion by narrowing the blood vessels in the nasal passages. These medications are available over-the-counter in the form of tablets, capsules, nasal sprays, and liquids.

Decongestants are commonly used to treat nasal congestion caused by allergies, colds, and sinus infections. They work quickly to relieve symptoms but should not be used for more than a few days at a time to avoid rebound congestion.

Common decongestant medications include pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine. Nasal sprays containing oxymetazoline or phenylephrine can also be effective but should not be used for more than three days to avoid rebound congestion.

Anti-inflammatory Medications

Another over-the-counter remedy to counter white wine allergy symptoms is taking anti-inflammatory medications. These drugs work by reducing inflammation in the body, which can help alleviate symptoms such as headaches and joint pain.

Some common anti-inflammatory medications include ibuprofen and naproxen. It is important to note that these medications should not be taken long-term without consulting a healthcare provider.

Like all medications, anti-inflammatory drugs can have side effects. Some potential side effects include stomach ulcers, bleeding, and kidney problems, so it is important to use these medications with caution and under the guidance of a healthcare provider.

Lifestyle Changes to Avoid White Wine Allergy

If you have been diagnosed with white wine allergy, there are some lifestyle changes you can make to help manage your symptoms:

Avoid white wine: The easiest way to avoid allergic reactions to white wine is to avoid consuming it. This may be difficult for some individuals, but it is the most effective method of managing your symptoms.

Switch to red wine: Red wine contains fewer sulfites than white wine and may be better tolerated by those with white wine allergy. However, it is still important to consult with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your diet.

Choose organic wines: Organic wines are made with fewer additives and may be less likely to trigger an allergic reaction. Look for wines that are labeled as “organic” or “no sulfites added.”

Take breaks between drinks: To reduce the risk of developing an allergic reaction, take a break between drinks. This will give your body time to metabolize the alcohol and reduce the risk of an allergic reaction.

Choosing Different Wines

Experiment with Different Varieties: If you experience an allergic reaction to white wine, it may be worth trying different varieties to see if the same reaction occurs. Red wines, for example, may be less likely to cause a reaction due to differences in the production process and grape varieties used.

Opt for Low-Sulfite Wines: Sulfites are a natural byproduct of the winemaking process and can cause allergic reactions in some people. Look for wines labeled “low sulfite” or “no added sulfites” to reduce the risk of a reaction.

Avoid Cheap Wines: Cheap wines are more likely to contain additives and preservatives that can cause allergic reactions. Investing in higher-quality wines can reduce the risk of a reaction and improve the overall taste and experience.

Consult with a Sommelier: A sommelier can help you navigate the world of wine and recommend varieties that are less likely to cause an allergic reaction. They can also provide guidance on wine pairings and suggest alternatives to white wine.

Reducing Wine Consumption

Reduce frequency: One of the most straightforward ways to avoid a white wine allergy is to reduce your frequency of consumption. Instead of drinking wine every day, consider drinking it only on special occasions or weekends.

Limit portion sizes: Another way to avoid triggering an allergic reaction is to limit the amount of wine you consume. Stick to small portion sizes, and avoid drinking more than one glass at a time.

Experiment with different types of drinks: If you still want to enjoy a drink with friends or family, consider experimenting with different types of drinks. You might find that other alcoholic beverages like beer or spirits don’t trigger your allergy.

Seek alternative non-alcoholic options: Lastly, if you want to avoid the risk of an allergic reaction altogether, try switching to non-alcoholic options. There are many delicious alternatives to wine, including mocktails, non-alcoholic beer, and sparkling water with fruit.

Improving Indoor Air Quality

Improving indoor air quality can help reduce the severity of white wine allergy symptoms. One way to do this is by using an air purifier, which can remove allergens such as dust and mold from the air. Another method is to use a dehumidifier to reduce the moisture in the air, which can help prevent the growth of mold. Keeping windows open when weather permits can also help to circulate fresh air throughout the house. Additionally, vacuuming carpets and upholstery regularly with a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter can help remove allergens from the home.

When to Seek Medical Help for White Wine Allergy?

If you experience severe symptoms such as anaphylaxis, shortness of breath, or swelling of the tongue or throat, seek immediate medical attention. These symptoms can be life-threatening and require immediate treatment.

If your symptoms are mild to moderate but persist despite avoiding white wine and taking over-the-counter remedies, you should make an appointment with an allergist or immunologist. They can perform tests to identify the specific allergen causing your symptoms and develop a treatment plan tailored to your needs.

If you have a history of severe allergic reactions or have been diagnosed with other allergies, it’s important to consult with your doctor before consuming white wine or any other potential allergen. They can advise you on the best course of action to prevent allergic reactions and manage symptoms if they occur.

Severe Symptoms

If you experience severe symptoms after consuming white wine, seek medical attention immediately. Symptoms that could indicate a severe allergic reaction include difficulty breathing, chest pain, swelling of the face or tongue, and a rapid heartbeat.

Severe allergic reactions, also known as anaphylaxis, can be life-threatening if left untreated. In these cases, medical intervention is necessary to prevent serious complications.

If you have a known white wine allergy, it’s important to carry an epinephrine auto-injector with you at all times. This device can help to quickly reverse the effects of an allergic reaction and may be necessary in the event of a severe reaction.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the common medications for treating white wine allergy?

Antihistamines, decongestants, and anti-inflammatory medications are some of the common medications used to treat white wine allergy. These medications can help alleviate symptoms such as runny nose, congestion, and itchy eyes caused by the allergic reaction to white wine.

Can I take over-the-counter antihistamines for white wine allergy?

Yes, over-the-counter antihistamines such as cetirizine, loratadine, and fexofenadine can be effective in relieving symptoms of white wine allergy. However, it is best to consult with a doctor or pharmacist before taking any medication to ensure that it is safe and appropriate for your individual needs.

Are there any natural remedies to counter white wine allergy?

Some natural remedies that may help counter the symptoms of white wine allergy include consuming foods rich in vitamin C, such as oranges and berries, and drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated. It is also recommended to avoid drinking alcohol, especially white wine, and to reduce exposure to allergens such as pollen and dust.

Can allergy shots help counter white wine allergy?

Allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy, can help reduce the severity of allergic reactions by gradually desensitizing the immune system to specific allergens, including white wine. However, this treatment can take several months or even years to be effective, and it is not suitable for everyone.

What are the potential side effects of taking medication for white wine allergy?

The potential side effects of taking medication for white wine allergy may vary depending on the specific medication used. Common side effects of antihistamines and decongestants include drowsiness, dry mouth, and dizziness. Anti-inflammatory medications may increase the risk of bleeding or stomach ulcers. It is important to discuss the potential side effects with a doctor or pharmacist before taking any medication.

When should I see a doctor for white wine allergy?

If you experience severe or life-threatening symptoms such as difficulty breathing or swelling of the throat or tongue, seek emergency medical attention immediately. Additionally, if your symptoms persist or worsen despite treatment or if you experience any new or unusual symptoms, it is important to consult with a doctor or allergist for proper evaluation and treatment.

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