Rob Moshein - The Austin Wine Guy

The genuine Culprit unmasked at Last! Sulfites proven NOT the cause of those headaches.

November 21, 2010

I can't believe that my first blog was over three years ago now, September 7, 2007.  The first subject was "Whine Headaches", wherein Yr Mst Hmbl & Obdt Svt tried to show with some reason and scientific evidence that despite popular myth, Sulfites in wine don't cause those headaches people complain of.  One less than nice lady commented that I was "crazy"...

At long last, they (being the scientifiic/medical research community) have discovered the true cause of headaches, runny noses, rash and other allergic reactions from drinking wine which have long been blamed on the much maligned sulfite.


Guilty as charged.

As published in the "Journal of Proteome Research" October 5, 2010, Giuseppe Palmisano, Donato Antonacci, and Martin R. Larse - Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark., and CRA, Agricultural Research Council, Research Unit for Table Grapes and Wine Growing in Mediterranean Environment, Turi (BA), Italy announced in the dryly titled article "Glycoproteomic Profile in Wine: A' Sweet' Molecular Renaissance"  

"Glycoproteins are believed to be important in several technological, oenological and allergological processes due to their physicochemical properties. The knowledge of the protein glycosylation status in wine will aid in the understanding of these processes. A multiplexed glycopeptide enrichment strategy in combination with tandem mass spectrometry was performed in order to analyze the glycoproteome of white wine. A total of 28 glycoproteins and 44 glycosylation sites were identified. The identified glycoproteins were from grape and yeast origin. In particular, several glycoproteins derived from grape, like invertase and pathogenesis-related (PR) proteins, and from the yeast, were found after the vinification process. Bioinformatic analysis revealed sequence similarity between the identified grape glycoproteins and known plant allergens. This study is an important step forward in order to investigate the implication of glycoproteins in several processes, like protein stabilization and potential allergenic cross-reactivity in wine."

In plain English for you, gentle reader:

Wine allergies occur in an estimated 8 percent of people worldwide. Only 1 percent of those involve sulfites, sulfur-containing substances that winemakers add to wine to prevent spoilage and also occur naturally. The wine components that trigger allergies in the remaining 7 percent were unclear. Until now

Palmisano and colleagues suggest that glycoproteins - proteins coated with sugars produced naturally as grapes ferment to produce wine- may well be the culprit as they are chemically identical to known allergens that cause the same headaches and reactions the occur to wine drinkers.

Their analysis of Italian Chardonnay uncovered 28 glycoproteins, some identified for the first time. The team found that many of the grape glycoproteins had structures similar to known allergens, including proteins that trigger allergic reactions to ragweed and latex.

The discovery will very likely open the door to research and development of wine-making processes that minimize formation of glycoproteins and finally offer consumers low-allergenic wines while keeping the benefits of stability of the wine from sulfites.


Rob Moshein

Austin Wine Guy

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