Glycoproteins: The Real Reason for Wine Allergies?

maywine.jpgWe had guests over the other night so, of course, we uncorked a few bottles of wine from our cellar (a small closet underneath the staircase).

One gentleman passed, saying that drinking wine gave him a headache, and a friend had told him it was because of sulfites in the wine. Some people avoid drinking wine altogether because they experience allergy-like symptoms when they do.

For many years, the main culprit was thought to be sulfites, which are sulfur-containing substances that occur naturally in the wine and that some vintners add as a means of preventing spoilage.

But it turns out that of the 8 percent of people who experience wine-related allergy symptoms, only one in eight of those folks is reacting to sulfur.

Then what’s the real main culprit?

Sify reported on the findings of Giuseppe Palmisano and his colleagues, which suggest that it may be glycoproteins.

So what are glycoproteins? They are proteins coasted with sugars that are produced naturally during the fermentation process.

In a bottle of Italian Chardonnay, Palmisano & Co. uncovered a total of 28 glycoproteins, some of which had never been identified before. It turns out that several of them have structures that are similar to known allergens — including proteins that trigger allergic reactions to ragweed and latex.

The hope is that by pinpointing the main cause of allergic reactions among wine drinkers, new processes could be developed to minimize the formation of glycoproteins when making wine.

And that would open the door to wine enjoyment to literally millions of people — including our guest, who had to pass on a couple of really nice selections.

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Posted in Wine and Health

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