A true wine allergy is relatively rare, but can cause severe discomfort. Some patients even have an allergic shock (anaphylaxis). Dr. Susanne Schäd and her colleagues at the Department of Dermatology in Würzburg reported in 2005 about a 27-year-old woman who, after drinking red wine, sparkling wine, grapes or raisins within an hour itching palms, swelling of the eyes, lips and tongue, shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing and got circulatory problems. The cause was an allergic reaction to lipid transfer proteins (LTP) in grapes.
LTP as the trigger of the allergic reaction
For example, allergenic LTP can be found in some fruits and vegetables such as peaches, cherries, corn, asparagus and lettuce. Lipid transfer proteins are common causes of allergies in the Mediterranean.
From Spain, for example, the case of a young woman is reported, who became unconscious after drinking champagne several times. However, she only suffered an allergic shock when she also ate wine grapes for sparkling wine. It is still poorly known whether LTP can trigger anaphylaxis in our country.
What is an anaphylactic shock?
Anaphylactic shocks are life-threatening. The most common triggers are insecticides, foods such as peanuts or celery and medicines. Vital is the identification of the trigger by allergological tests. Endangered persons must always carry emergency medication.
"An allergy to insect venom can be treated very well with a specific immunotherapy.Almost all patients are protected from allergic shock by the insect venom after this causal therapy, " says the Munich professor. Bernhard Przybilla of the German Society of Allergology and Clinical Immunology (DGAKI).
Not uncommon: allergy symptoms after drinking alcohol
However, quite a few people suffer from the consumption of various alcoholic drinks with allergic symptoms in the respiratory tract or the skin. A Danish study published in 2008 came to the conclusion that 13 percent of adults had already had such complaints after drinking alcohol during their lifetime. The most common symptoms were red wine, more common in women than in men. The pathomechanisms of these reactions are still unclear and probably diverse. Very rare are anaphylactic reactions to ethanol itself.
Epidemiological studies have shown that people who drink alcohol more often suffer from allergic rhinitis and asthma. In a previous study of 3, 317 patients, Danish scientists found that those who consumed alcoholic beverages several times a week were more likely to be sensitized to airborne allergens (aeroallergens).
Insecticide Allergy by Wine?
In the summer of 2007, Spanish doctors reported on five patients who had symptoms of allergy after drinking grape juice or young wine. One patient even had an anaphylactic shock. A skin test to prove allergy was positive with the suspect wine, but not with other, older tastings. In contrast, testing with insect venom was positive, although none of the patients reported a previous bee or wasp sting.
The puzzle solution: In grape juice and young wine insect venom is detectable. When grapes are pressed, insects are likely to get into the product. The Spanish scientists believe that even these small amounts of poison in sensitive people sufficient to lead to oral sensitization and allergy symptoms. Possibly, the toxins decompose during the maturation of the wines, so that older wines are safe.
"An interesting observation - this way of developing an allergy and triggering anaphylaxis, however, remains hypothetical, " commented Professor Przybilla. "The actual release of the symptoms by insect venom could have been secured by an oral provocation test with insect venom, but apparently no such test was made."