Four helpful wine-drinking tips for sulphite allergy sufferers

November 3, 2015

If you have a sulphite allergy, you know wine can cause headaches and other symptoms. But there’s good news: wine lovers need not give up the beverage if they follow these tips when the time comes to select a bottle.

Four helpful wine-drinking tips for sulphite allergy sufferers

Wine can be a delicious treat either on its own or paired with a great meal. However, some varieties contain sulphites, a common allergen that can aggravate the immune system of individuals sensitive to it. Though sulphites are used to keep wine fresh, not all bottles are equal when it comes to the amount they contain.

1. Drink organic wines

In order to be certified as organic, wines must undergo rigorous observation. This ensures that the growing methods are acceptable and there are no added or inorganic ingredients.

Organic wines are therefore a good option for sulphite allergy sufferers. Since sulphites occur naturally in wine, organic varieties do contain a small amount of the substance. However, additional sulphites aren’t added, making them a good option if you have a sulphite allergy.

2. Avoid any bottle marked "Contains sulphites"

In Canada, the government requires that wines containing more than 10 parts per million of sulphites are marked with a warning visible label for purchasers that says "Contains sulphites." Look for a bottle without that label or better yet, one that says "No sulphites added."

According to Health Canada, these bottles are your best bet for avoiding allergic reactions. If you have a hard time finding them at your local wine store, ask an expert there for help — it can be tedious checking each bottle one by one.

3. Take an allergy pill

Sufferers of minor sulphite allergies have reported that they don't experience any of the unpleasant symptoms of the allergy (such as a stuffy nose, cough and watery eyes) if they take an allergy pill before they drink the beverage.

  • Try a non-drowsy allergy pill, rather than one that will put you to sleep. Obviously, if you have a severe sulphite allergy, you should avoid the beverage even if you have allergy medication on hand.
  • Make sure you eat food before taking medication and drinking wine.

4. Choose wines with lower sulphur levels

Some wines naturally have lower sulphur levels, resulting in lower amounts of sulphites. A good option is therefore to choose a naturally low-sulphur wine. These varieties are typically dark, lower in sugar, more acidic and can often be served warm.

  • You can help lower the level of sulphur in a warm wine by simply chilling it or decanting it before you drink it.

If you’re a wine lover who’s sensitive to sulphites, you’re in luck: follow these tips and you’ll be able to enjoy the beverage without any of the unpleasant side effects.


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