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Ask The Allergy Coach - "Phyllis"

Phyllis asks, “If I am allergic to oak pollen, can I drink wine that has been aged in oak barrels? Is there a wine I can drink?”


Hi Phyllis. There are multiple answers to this question.

Each individual is unique and some people with an oak pollen, or oak wood allergy may need to find wines that are not aged in oak barrels, while others will not be bothered by the wine aging process.

Oak tree allergy symptoms include:

  • Stuffy or runny nose

  • Sneezing

  • Coughing

  • Red, watery, or itchy eyes

  • Itchy throat, nose

  • Fatigue

  • Potentially dark circles under the eyes

Drinking alcohol has been linked to a variety of allergy symptoms, including:

  • Asthma

  • Headaches

  • Nasal blockages/discharge

  • Itching

  • Sneezing

  • Coughing

  • Hives

In addition, individuals who are allergic to, or intolerant of wine (and other forms of alcohol) should be aware of these ingredients found in wine :

  • Grapes, (especially the grape skin, which is how red wine is fermented with the grape skin still on) including the specific proteins found in them

  • Ethanol, which is the specific type of alcohol that’s present in wine

  • Yeast, which ferments the sugars from the grapes into ethanol

  • Sulfites, which can be produced naturally in wine, or added by winemakers

  • Fining agents, which are added during production and can include proteins derived from milk, eggs, and fish

There are similarities in the symptoms. It is important to be properly diagnosed by an allergist to determine if you are allergic to other allergens in wine, or if you have an intolerance to alcohol, which is more common than a true alcohol allergy.

--- Susan


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