Latest research: Wine allergies exist; you probably don’t have them.
Many people claim they are allergic to wine, particularly to sulfites. Best medical evidence, however, identifies only people who have very severe asthma have to worry.
Fact: most dried fruits, many cured meats, many salad bars have more sulfites, often many more sulfites, than an entire bottle of wine. A single dried apricot has more sulfite than a bottle of wine. If you survive a dried apricot, you are good to go with a single glass of wine.
There are legitimate issues with alcohol. Women, typically, cannot drink as much as men because of metabolism and weight. Asians do not metabolize alcohol as well, thanks to a genetically encoded difference in a key enzyme; they tend to turn red, hot, and uncomfortable. Native Americans may have the same issue. These are not allergies, these are genetic differences.
There have been many attempts to discover people who are allergic to wine. Virtually all have produced meager results. Are some people allergic to wine? Yes, of course. Similar tests identify people allergic to citrus fruits, olives, tomatoes, egg yolks, milk. Yes, people can be allergic, but they are rare.
Bottom line: given enough people, some people will be allergic to almost anything. Wine clearly is not a major villain. Maybe you do not enjoy wine. Maybe you have an allergy to wine. Odds are, however, that your decision to avoid wine during the great harvest feasts of the coming weeks is result of taste or mental disposition, not genetics or allergies.
Do not be coy about not enjoying wine. Be confidently assured those who enjoy wine will be thrilled that you do not. Your decision means more pours for us. Refuse away.
• Simi Sonoma County Chardonnay 2013: Restrained oak and malo-butter add discrete elements of vanilla and bacon; nice acidity; lemon zest on the finish, well-made, palate-cleansing chard. $14-18
• Ferrari Brut NV: Wonderfully clean, fresh Italian sparkling, a complement to any big feast. $25
• Elk Cove Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2013: Delicious multi-vineyard wine with wide distribution and well priced for a Willamette pinot. $29
Last round: Wine. Because your friends really are not all that interesting.
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