Several of my health-forward friends have been telling me for years that alcohol made their allergies worse. I have hay fever and a smattering of animal allergies myself, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized that I, too, seemed to be a lot more likely to have a sneeze attack after having a glass of vino.
That’s because alcohol does indeed trigger allergies, according to a recent New York Times story. Among the evidence, a 2008 study from Danish researchers found that women in their 20s who had two glasses of wine a day were nearly twice as likely to have allergy symptoms as those who didn’t.
The issue isn’t the alcohol itself; it’s that wine, beer and liquor contain histamine, which causes the millions of people with histamine allergies to develop less-than-fun symptoms like itchy eyes, a runny nose, a scratchy or sore throat and, of course, sneezing. To add to the problem, beer and wine both naturally contain sulfites, which also contribute to allergies and asthma.
Personally, I’d rather stock up on Claritin than give up wine. But if you’ve got really bad allergies, it might be worth shelving your bottles during the sneezing season.
By the way, although there’s no such thing as sulfite free wine, you can get low sulfite wine; one of my new favorites is Frey Vineyards Syrah. And when in doubt, go with organic, because it tends to be lower in sulfites.