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A Step Closer to Hypoallergenic Wine

Studies at the University of Southern Denmark reveal the possible trigger behind wine allergies

December 27, 2010

Scientists discovered 27 glycoproteins that may be the cause of wine allergies

If you're one of the 500 million people in the world allergic to wine, a few sips may trigger stuffy sinuses, headaches, or even difficulty breathing. Fortunately, scientists at the University of Southern Denmark have found the possible cause, giving allergy sufferers everywhere hope for the development of hypoallergenic wine.

The allergen in wine has remained largely a mystery, often attributed to a person's lack of enzymes to metabolize alcohol or an allergic reaction to some ingredient. Researchers at the University of Southern Denmark conducted a new study that identified 28 organic compounds in a bottle of Chardonnay from Puglia, Italy, similar to known allergens in other foods. The compounds, all glycoproteins, are common in wine and are created during fermentation. Many have never been identified, and the research group, led by Dr. Giuseppe Palmisano, found that the sequences of the glycoproteins were similar to allergens commonly found in fruits and rubber products.

Creating a hypoallergenic wine, however, will be much more difficult. Many of the glycoproteins are byproducts of grape fermentation, and according to Palmisano, eliminating them could change the taste and quality of the wine. While more research is needed to better understand the allergens, Palmisano is already engineering tools for winemakers to remove unwanted molecules and produce low allergenic wine.

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(Updated: 12/27/10 JC)

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