Prevalence of Wine Intolerance – Results of a Survey From Mainz, Germany

Petra Wigand, Maria Blettner, Joachim Saloga, Heinz Decker
Institute of Molecular Biophysics of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz



Wine is an ancient food product, ubiquitous across cultures all over the world. Its effects on health have been extensively studied, yet there have been only a few case reports of wine intolerance or wine allergy. We studied the prevalence of self-reported wine intolerance in the adult population of Mainz, Germany.

In 2010, a questionnaire-based cross-sectional study was conducted to assess the prevalence of wine intolerance among adults in Mainz, a city in the wine-cultivating area of Rhine-Hesse. 4000 persons randomly chosen from population lists were asked to fill out a questionnaire about their alcohol intake and the occurrence of various intolerance reactions and allergy-like symptoms after drinking wine.


Of the 4000 who received the questionnaire, 948 (23.7%) filled it out and returned it to us. 68 (7.2% of respondents) reported intolerance to wine and/or allergy-like symptoms after drinking wine. Self-reported wine intolerance was more prevalent in women than in men (8.9% vs. 5.2%, p = 0.026). Wine-intolerant persons also more commonly reported intolerance to beer and alcohol in general. Allergy-like symptoms were more common after the consumption of red wine. The most commonly reported reactions to wine were cutaneous flushing, itch, and nasal congestion.


Wine intolerance was found to be more common than expected. The data reported here are less suggestive of an immunologically mediated allergy than of intolerance to alcohol, biogenic amines, or other ingredients of wine.

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