Ask drinkplanner beer and wine allergies

Ask DrinkPlanner is a reoccurring feature here where readers submit their questions, and the crack team at DrinkPlanner does our best to answer. Got a question about booze? Ask us!


“Dear DrinkPlanner,

I am 55 years old, and about three years ago I developed an allergy to beer and wine which I never had in the past.  It causes sneezing and sinus problems.  I may be allergic to sulfites.  I don’t drink a lot, but I do enjoy an occasional glass of wine at dinner or a beer with the guys.  Especially in the beer category, do you have any suggestions on commonly available beers at bars and restaurants that may not trigger this reaction?

Thank you,

Sipping and Suffering

Yeesh.  I do not envy you, friend.  That is not something I would want to wake up and discover had just happened to me.  To me that would be like finding out one day that yes, you’ve been sleeping every night of your life and it’s been great, but starting today sleeping causes your ass to itch uncontrollably and makes you miss the last 5 minutes of every TV show you watch.  It’s random, uncomfortable, and unspeakably cruel.  Fortunately, there are several different forms of alcohol allergies, and depending on which one you have, there are ways you can get around them.  So here are some of the possible allergies you could have:

1. Sulfites – Sulfites occur naturally in wine in low amounts, though many have additional sulfites added to stop the fermentation process or as a preservative to stop the oxidation process.  Most beers do not contain sulfites nowadays, though some do and there’s no labeling to indicate one way or another.  Either way, you’re going to want to steer towards wines and beers that are labeled “organic”, as they will have no sulfites added.  For wines, you’ll want to find ones that don’t have the label “CONTAINS SULFITES”.  They’ll still have some (less than 10ppm) but it may be low enough to not bother you.

2. Yeast – If you’re allergic to yeast, it poses a bigger problem.  Brewer’s yeast is used in the fermentation of all fermented beverages: wine, beer, cider, sake…the list goes on.  HOWEVER, the good news is that you are free to drink distilled spirits all you like.  As long as you are okay with that, party on.

3. Wheat/Gluten – This one is unlikely, as wine contains no gluten, but I’m adding it in here for the sake of being comprehensive.  Basically, if this is your allergy, you’re relegated to distilled spirits, wine, and gluten-free beers like Redbridge.  NOT New Grist.

4. Histamines – The least fun option.  Histamine intolerance means you’re affected by the histamines in what you’re drinking the same way someone with hay-fever or pollen allergies is affected by those histamines.  Unfortunately, all alcoholic beverages are histamine-rich, and the recommended treatment is to go alcohol-free.  The Worst.

Granted I’m no doctor, so you should probably talk to one.  Another good idea would be to keep track of what you drink, and how it affects you after.  Hopefully you’ll be able to find some things that don’t adversely affect you and you can keep the good times rolling.  Thanks for writing in!

So there you have it.  Keep the questions coming and I’ll do my best to answer them.  Have a booze-related question?  Ask DrinkPlanner!

3 Responses to “Ask DrinkPlanner: Beer and Wine Allergies”

  1. Hello DrinkPlanner and Sniffing/ Sobbering,

    Great post- you can find more info on this issue here:

    Regards- Matthew

  2. Catherine says:

    Thanks for this article. I am 32 and about 2 months ago whenever I had wine or beer I would start sneezing, end up with a really bunged up nose and it would last for about 24 hours. I am now going to get some allergy testing.


  3. Christine says:

    Great post- thanks. can you post some where the symptoms of wine allergy to sulfites…and does it gives you muscle and joint pain as well

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