Wine allergies are not to be sneezed at

| 02/12/2010

(CNS): Scientists have identified a protein in wine that could lead to headaches, stuffy noses, skin rashes and other allergy symptoms that can hit you after you’ve have a glass or two. The discovery could help winemakers to develop the first low allergenic vintages – reds and whites with less potential to trigger these allergy symptoms, they say. The new study appears in the American Chemical Society monthly Journal of Proteome Research. Dr Giuseppe Palmisano and colleagues at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Southern Denmark, say there is growing concern about the potential of certain ingredients in red and white wine to cause allergy-like symptoms that range from stuffed up noses to headaches to difficulty in breathing.

It’s estimated that these allergies affect around eight percent of wine drinkers worldwide. About one per cent are put down to the sulphur-containing substances that winemakers add to their wine to prevent spoilage. These can also occur naturally.
The component that triggers allergies in the remaining seven percent are unclear but studies suggest that glycoproteins – proteins coated with sugars produced naturally as grapes ferment – may be a culprit. However, scientists know little about the structure and function of these substances in wine.

Their analysis of Italian Chardonnay uncovered 28 glycoproteins, some identified for the first time. The scientists found that many of the grape glycoproteins had structures similar to known allergens, including proteins that trigger allergic reactions to ragweed and latex.

The discovery opens the door to the development of wine-making processes that minimise formation of the culprit glycoproteins and offer consumers low-allergenic wines.

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