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Sulfites, histamines and marketing

Anyone who has a social media feed has probably seen ads for devices that promise to get rid of your "wine hangover" by filtering sulfites and histamines out of your wine.

I say, buyer beware ... and do your research.

Yes, these can be cool products to use on cheap, crap wines such as the low end, mass produce swills. However, most people, (like 99% of the population), do NOT have adverse reactions to sulfites.

Those suffering from Crohn's or celiac disease (and/or a few other rare intestinal tract diseases) are usually the only people truly affected by sulfites. What research has found is that a lot more people DO have adverse reactions to histamines. Histamines, according to WebMD, are "chemicals your immune system makes. Histamines act like bouncers at a club. They help your body get rid of something that's bothering you -- in this case, an allergy trigger, or "allergen." Histamines in foods go to work in your gut ASAP to create an allergic reaction.

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Vinis Vinifera grapes (wine grapes) contain extremely high amounts of histamines naturally. Red wine grapes contain as much as 200% more histamines than white grapes! So, if you have allergies to other foods, molds, pollens, etc., stay away from red wine.

Just remember: if you have allergies, you are going to have some level of reaction to drinking wine. The darker and thicker the skin of the grape, the more histamines will be present. Try drinking lighter colored wines. If that doesn't work, you'll have to choose between 1) drinking wine, turning red and possibly having a headache .... or 2) not drinking wine at all.

 The holy grail solution to people's reactions to red wines would be an anti-histamine that you can take with alcohol. THAT is the multi-billion dollar solution that is waiting to be discovered. 

More about sulfites 

I get questions about sulfites in wine every single day. A lot of the foods we eat contain sulfites. Sulfur is a naturally occurring chemical and is an excellent preservative and stabilizer. It's usually added in small measurements to mass produced white wines to help preserve their crisp flavors and aromas, and in larger amounts to red wines to help stabilize them as they age. 

As more and more wineries convert to more natural, organic, sustainable and bio-dynamic vineyard and winery practices, less and less sulfites are being used. Just bear in mind that ALL wines contain sulfites. They occur naturally in some form or other. 

The only wine I have ever seen that "contains no detectable sulfites", is an inexpensive box wine called 'Our Daily Red.' I haven't tried it yet, so I can not comment on its taste or quality.