Erin Doman on April 22, 2015 11 Comments While you may love to sip on a glass of wine after a busy day of work or pair it with your favorite meal, you may be surprised to learn some of the extra ingredients found in your wine and how some can react to these wine allergens. Depending on your dietary restrictions and food allergies, you may want to either switch wines or educate yourself about all of the preservatives and potential wine allergens used in your favorite red or white to determine your allergy risk. 1. Lipid Transfer Proteins The lipid transfer proteins from wine come from yeasts, bacteria and grapes. These proteins are also commonly found in liquors and beer and have been known to cause a number of allergic reactions, including nasal congestion, flushing, diarrhea, vomiting, and swelling in the mouth and throat. Red wine is more likely to have lipid transfer proteins that cause notable allergic reactions than white wine is. This is because red wine is fermented with protein-filled grape skins while white wine is not. If you ever experience a headache or nausea after having a glass of wine, there’s a good chance you’re allergic to the lipid transfer proteins inside of the wine. 2. Egg Whites Egg whites contain a globular protein that is often used in winemaking. The protein, called “albumen”, is used to help clarify red wines while they’re aging in a barrel. The use of albumen is actually the oldest fining method in the winemaking industry. Unfortunately, albumin is thought to be a wine allergen. Those who are allergic to eggs often experience nasal congestion, hives, skin inflammation and cramps. Extreme allergic reactions often result in anaphylaxis, which results in a rapid pulse, constricted airways and even shock. During an allergic reaction caused by eggs, an individual’s immune system will identify certain egg proteins as harmful, which leads to a release of histamines and various other chemicals that cause discomfort or harm to the body. 3. Chitosan This wine ingredient is made up of the exoskeletons of crab, shellfish, shrimp and other crustaceans. Chitosan is a sucrose polymer and often used as a finishing agent in white wines. Chitosan can be especially problematic for wine lovers who are allergic to shellfish. There’s a good chance that the wine you’re drinking contains chitosan if you experience tingling in your mouth, dizziness, itching, eczema or abdominal pain. An individual may need to seek immediate emergency treatment if allergy symptoms are extreme enough and lead to anaphylaxis. It is especially important to know the ingredients of your wine if you have a known shellfish allergy. 4. Gelatin Gelatin is an animal protein used in red wine as a way to lower extra astringency and tannins. Symptoms of a gelatin allergy include hives, swelling in the mouth, itching, trouble breathing and vomiting. Gelatin is commonly found in flu shots as a stabilizer, so if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction after getting a flu shot, there’s a good chance you have a gelatin allergy. 5. Isinglass Isinglass is a protein made from collagen and taken from the swim bladders of fish. Because this protein is taken directly from fish (notably from the Beluga sturgeon), it is not able to be consumed by strict vegans and vegetarians. Isinglass is used in wine as a soft fining agent as a way to keep from stripping the flavor from blushes and whites. Allergic reactions to isinglass often lead to cramps, diarrhea, flushing of the skin, wheezing and inflammation. Fish allergies can be some of the most severe and easily lead to anaphylaxis. 6. Casein This ingredient is often used to help clarify white wines. Casein is a type of phosphoprotein found in milk, so you may be at risk of negatively reacting to any of these phosphoproteins found in your wine of you’ve ever experienced an allergic reactions from drinking milk or eating cheese products. Reactions to this wine allergen include sneezing, itchy eyes, swelling, rash, itchy skin and nasal congestion. 7. Sulfites Sulfites are a natural occurrence in the wine-making process and are used as a preservative. In addition to wine, sulfites are often found in beer, dried fruit and a number of other foods. Allergic reactions to sulfites include dizziness, trouble swallowing, hives, vomiting and decreased blood pressure. If you suffer from seasonal allergies already and find you are also allergic to sulfites, there’s a possibility that you could go into anaphylactic shock. People who suffer from asthma are also at a higher risk for allergic reactions from wine sulfites. If you are already aware you’re allergic to sulfites, pay close attention to the wines you drink. 8. Gluten While gluten is more commonly found in beer from the hops, barley and yeast, the allergen can also occasionally be found in wine. A mixture of flour and water is often used to seal up oak barrels. Even though the barrels are cleaned out before they’re used for wine, there are some who believe that traces of thickened flour still remain caked to the barrel that can contaminate the wine. Anyone who has celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should get in touch with the manufacturer that produces any wines they consume in order to determine whether glutinous barrels are used during the winemaking process. General Alcohol Intolerance Even if you don’t experience a reaction to any of the above wine allergens, there’s still a chance you may experience general alcohol intolerance. Consuming alcohol causes your blood vessels to expand and widen, which often leads to flushed skin. If flushing is the only symptom you notice after drinking wine or any other type of alcohol, then you’re more than likely only reacting to the traces of ethanol in the alcohol. The Racking Process Once the fining agents have been separated and all solids have been collected from the wine during the racking process, there should not be any fining agents remaining in the wine. By the time the wine is ready to be bottled, any other substances that remain should be extracted. If there’s any risk of allergens still remaining in the wine, the bottle should be labeled accordingly. It is important to know that the US does not legally require wine labels to list potential leftover allergens, but the European Union does. If it turns out you are sensitive to any of these wine allergens but your symptoms are only mild, then you can continue drinking your favorite wine if you wish as long as you’re willing to tolerate any flushing that comes with it. Try switching wines to see if there’s one you enjoy that you don’t have a reaction to. There are also special “green wines” that are made without artificial additives or pesticides. If you have specific dietary restrictions or extreme allergic reactions to certain substances, you’ll want to switch to wine that’s clearly labeled. You can also stick to only drinking European wines since they often don’t contain as many potential allergens as other types of wine. It is clear that knowing your own body and what it is and is not sensitive to can be a matter of life and death. Do not risk indulging in a glass of wine if you are not absolutely positive that you will not react negatively to it.