Cheers! Could Hypoallergenic Wine Be on the Horizon?

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As food allergens go, wine is easier to avoid than, say, wheat. But there are some 500 million people worldwide — that’s about 8% — who will have to sit out toasts this holiday season because of wine allergies. Lucky for them, however, researchers just got a step closer to figuring out what causes those allergies, and perhaps, how to make wine that everyone can drink.

Symptoms of wine allergy can range from headaches and stuffy nose to skin rash. About 1% of allergies relate to sulfites, a type of sulfur-containing preservative that winemakers add to wine. But the triggers of the remaining 7% of wine allergies remain a mystery. (More on The Most Dangerous Drugs? Alcohol, Heroin and Crack — in That Order)

One culprit may be glycoproteins, a type of protein coated with sugar that develops during the grape-fermentation process. Now a new study in the Journal of Proteome Research supports the theory by showing that many of the 28 glycoproteins found in an Italian chardonnay had a similar cellular structure to known allergens, including the proteins that cause reactions to ragweed and latex.

Molecular biologist Giuseppe Palmisano and his team are hoping that their work on the glycoproteins — many of which were identified for the first time — will help lead to the development of a glycoprotein-free wine. (More on 4 Reasons Binge Drinking Is a Public Health Problem)

If only they could do something to minimize the next day’s effects as well.

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