A few weeks ago I opened a fairly high-end bottle of California Cabernet. It was a very full bodied red wine, and 15% alcohol. That much alcohol is higher than average. I had a mouthful, and instantly couldn’t breath. Crazy stuffed up….finished the glass anyway : ) as it was very tasty! Usually depending on how much wine I have it is not unusual for me to get a little stuffed up, and the next day it’s typical to notice a little nasal congestion. Nothing serious. But this was bad!
So I decided to look this up to see what could be the cause. Like usual on the internet, there are so many conflicting analogies. Alcohol intolerance, molds, tannins, high levels of histamines produced by yeast and bacteria during fermentation. Beer and wine also contain sulfites. Most spirits or liquor as well as beer, contains grains, and is common for people to have a sensitivity to grains. In red wine the fuller bodied wines are fermented with the skins on and are typically higher in alcohol. Often these wines are aged in oak barrels, and so are some white wines and other alcohols. While there is no proof of this, I suspect the oak may aggravate my sinuses adding insult to injury. If you find yourself getting really stuffed up over some Cabernet, try some lighter red wine like a Chianti. I have found some of the lighter wines with lower alcohol, red or white has less effect on my sinuses. Allergy specialist Dr. Sumit Bhutani MD states on Dr. Vino’s blog, that when someones allergies are flared, alcohol can act as a congestant and is blood alcohol related. He also claimed that women are 3 times more sensitive than men.
I am not sure what to believe, how can it be the alcohol flaring up my allergies with one mouthful? But he may be right, I tried an un-oaked white wine, 11% (low alcohol) no sinus issues. I then tried an Italian red blend, also un-oaked as far as I could tell. 12.5% alcohol. No issues. So maybe it is a combination of pre-existing allergies to yeast, molds, histamines, grains in some cases, to the percentage or volume of alcohol itself.