Sauvignon Blanc for those that suffer from histamine release

· Blog
Dec 6th, 2012 | By | Category: Blog

Sauvignon Blanc for those that suffer from histamine release

The hot, and often suppressed, topic of wines that cause drinkers to sneeze, and sometimes tight chested, is mainly based on anecdotal reports, not scientific. Whilst many wine companies firmly believe that there’s no correlation between wine and histamine release, many consumers think there is.

Who hasn’t been at a party and overheard someone say “I can’t drink that wine, it makes me sneeze”. Well, if you haven’t you’re bloody lucky. Those whinging fucking douchebags! Can’t they keep their allergies to themselves!

Well, it’s my belief, that most of those reactions are caused by high sulfur levels in wine. Sulfur is used as an antioxidant. If grapes are picked by machine their skins tend to be split and start oxidising. To inhibit this reaction Sulfur Dioxide is used (SO2).

A little bit about SO2

def: Sulfur dioxide (also sulphur dioxide) is the chemical compound with the formula SO2. It is a toxic gas with a pungent, irritating smell.

In winemaking Sulfur dioxide is an important compound in winemaking, and is designated as parts per million in wine, E number: E220. It is present even in so-called unsulfurated wine at concentrations of up to 10 mg/L. It serves as an antibiotic and antioxidant, protecting wine from spoilage by bacteria and oxidation. Its antimicrobial action also helps to minimize volatile acidity. Sulfur dioxide is responsible for the words “contains sulfites” found on wine labels.

Sulfur dioxide exists in wine in free and bound forms, and the combination are referred to as total SO2. Binding, for instance to the carbonyl group of acetaldehyde, varies with the wine in question. The free form exists in equilibrium between molecular SO2 (as a dissolved gas) and bisulfite ion, which is in turn in equilibrium with sulfite ion. These equilibria depend on the pH of the wine. Lower pH shifts the equilibrium towards molecular (gaseous) SO2, which is the active form, while at higher pH more SO2 is found in the inactive sulfite and bisulfite forms. It is the molecular SO2 which is active as an antimicrobial and antioxidant, and this is also the form which may be perceived as a pungent odour at high levels. Wines with total SO2 concentrations below 10 parts per millon (ppm) do not require “contains sulfites” on the label.

I personally suggest, to those of you that do suffer, is to buy wines that are made from organic grapes, and that are handpicked. This reduces the chance of high use of SO2 being used on the fruit. So go on, treat yourself to a bottle this Summer without the risk of sneezing!

My Top Wines

My top picks for Summer drinking if you’re susceptible to histamine release when drinking Sauvignon Blanc, including the links of where to buy, are:

Mahi Sauvignon Blanc

Johanneshof Sauvignon Blanc

Rippon Sauvignon Blanc

Elephant Hill Reserve Sauvignon Blanc


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Written by Jayson Bryant

Jayson’s roots in wine began when his father literally dragged him round France and injected his passion into him. From the age of 8 his family took month long holidays in France travelling through all regions and sampling their wine.
UnScrewed has reinvented the concept of wine tasting in New Zealand and along the way found a new and willing audience. In addition to encouraging straightforward wine tasting, Jayson educates viewers about the effects of regional factors (soil, sun, wind) on wine flavours, and how to buy wine.


  • Melanie

    A mother of 3 who nearly died in the ER from anaphylaxis is not a “whinging fucking douchebag” because she says she must pass on the wine because of an allergy. Your uneducated statement and crude delivery are unnecessary and could literally end up killing someone. If anyone should STFU, it’s you.