Wine Allergy? Insects May Be to Blame

Some Wine Allergies Stem From Insect Chemicals, Doctors Report

By Miranda Hitti
WebMD Health News

Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

Aug. 15, 2007 -- Some allergic reactions to wine stem from insect chemicals, new research shows.

In tomorrow's edition of The New England Journal of Medicine, doctors in Spain describe the cases of five patients who had allergic symptoms after drinking grape juice or newly pressed red or white wines.

One of those patients had anaphylaxis -- a sudden, severe allergic reaction. Another patient experienced asthma symptoms. The three other patients had allergic reactions in their mouths and flushed faces.

The doctors, who included Alicia Armentia, MD, PhD, of the Hospital Rio Hortega in Valladolid, Spain, gave the patients various allergy tests, including skin tests.

The skin tests showed that the patients were allergic to Hymenoptera, which is the order of animals that includes ants, bees, and wasps.

Chemicals from Hymenoptera insects may be present in some wines, according to the doctors, who also found that none of the patients was allergic to aged wines.

The doctors aren't implying that all new wines or grape juices contain the insect chemicals, or that no aged wines trigger allergic reactions, or that all wine allergies are due to insect chemicals.

The Spanish report only focuses on a few patients; it's not a thorough primer on wine allergies.

If you have a wine allergy, talk to your doctor about what types of wines -- if any -- you might be able to drink.

SOURCES: Armentia, A. The New England Journal of Medicine, Aug. 16, 2007; vol 357: pp 719-720. U.S. Department of Agriculture's Systemic Entomology Laboratory.

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