Are hidden allergens in wine making you miserable?

Are hidden allergens in wine making you miserable?

How many times have you innocently enjoyed a nice glass of wine in the evening only to wake up feeling terrible the next day?

It happens doesn’t it?

But why?

It’s not as if you sunk an entire bottle and stayed out dancing all night, it was just a glass of wine (or three).

So why the nauseating, morning blues?

Your Wine Choice

Well, your choice of wine, or more precisely, the preservatives and additives used to make it, could well be the culprits of your discomfort.

Australian laws currently permit the use of 19 listed additives and 37 different processing aids in wine manufacturing. These include sulphites (most commonly sulphur dioxide and potassium metabisulphite), egg and milk products, gelatin (a meat product), wheat, isinglass (a fish product), yeast, and other food chemicals.

Mass wine makers commonly use these substances to improve, or prevent deterioration of, product taste, colour and aroma. Some others are used as ‘fining agents’ to accelerate the removal of soluble particles such as tannins and proteins from the finished product.

In most instances, these ingredients are relatively benign and unlikely to provoke serious physiological reactions. But if you suffer from allergies, you need to be careful: most wines on the market could potentially cause you grief, even in the smallest doses.

How do additives and preservatives affect people?

Allergic reactions to certain additives and preservatives in wine include asthmatic problems, nausea, hives, respiratory contraction, abdominal pain, skin inflammation, wheezing, dizziness and, in very severe cases, anaphylactic shock.

Sulphur dioxide in particular, can have a nasty effect depending on your individual tolerance levels. To make matters worse, levels of sulphur dioxide in wine vary dramatically from bottle to bottle, so it pays to tread carefully.

What about wine labels?

Don’t they provide information?

Well yes, they do, but navigating your way around wine labeling information to ensure you know exactly what you’re ingesting is often time consuming and confusing. Vegans and vegetarians for example, who need to steer clear of animal based products, can be left bewildered at the best of times.

New laws introduced in 2002, required all wine makers to list known allergens on their labels. But this obligation on their behalf doesn’t necessarily safeguard consumers in the way you’d expect. Nor does it provide a no-risk guarantee for allergy sufferers. And that’s because it is not always straightforward to understand the labels themselves.

In 2009, for example, the Australia and New Zealand Food Standards Code, which governs wine manufacturing and labeling, was amended to exempt isinglass (a fish product) from being declared on labels.

Pretty crazy, right?

Similarly, in some cases, the use of numerical codes, instead of actual substance names, is also allowed. This means that ‘preservative 220’ or ‘SO2’ can appear instead of ‘sulphur dioxide’ and ‘preservative 224’ instead of ‘potassium metabisulphite’.

Confused? We don’t blame you.

 So what’s the solution?

Well, thankfully the organic and biodynamic beer and wine industry is steadily growing in Australia, giving consumers better choice and more control over the products they consume.

Consuming organic, biodynamic, or preservative free wine is not only far less likely to result in allergic reactions, but because of the sustainable growing practices used to manufacture it, the natural environment benefits too.

So instead of shrugging off that ‘undeserved hangover’ as an unlucky one-off, have a think about the wine you chose. Read the label. The alcohol itself might have little to do with your pain. More likely, your body disagreed with some of the other ingredients used in its production.

Next time you head out to buy a bottle of wine, try an organic product or look out for preservative free wines.  Go ahead and banish those morning headaches.

Interested in Organic, Preseravative Free or Biodynamic Wine?


Head here for organic, here for preservative free, and here for biodynamic wine available for purchase from this website.


The first bottle of wine shouldn’t leave too much of a mark the next day.

The second bottle is your problem. We don’t have a cure for that just yet!

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