Since eggs are sometimes used in winemaking, are people with egg allergies at risk?

Ask Dr Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

Dear Dr. Vinny,

Someone I know suffers from a serious allergy to eggs. Knowing that eggs are sometimes used in the making of wine, is there a risk of finding egg traces in the wine?

—Damien, Namur, Belgium

Dear Damien,

Maybe. Some common allergens—like eggs, dairy and even fish—are used in the production of wine. Very little if any of these substances remain in the finished wines, but current technology can’t detect the presence of some allergens at sufficiently low levels to assure the safety of highly allergic individuals, and some allergy sufferers insist that wines can indeed cause serious reactions. There’s a debate going on in the United States whether or not wine labeling laws should require vintners to list these allergens if they are used, but so far the necessity hasn’t been determined, and listing allergens is voluntary.

Are vintners putting scrambled eggs in your wine? Not exactly. Before a wine is bottled, a winemaker might want to remove excess tannins or solids in a process called “fining.” The proteins in egg whites, milk, fish bladders, seaweed or volcanic clay are known to attract and bind to these tannins or solids, which then clump together and fall out of suspension to the bottom of a barrel or tank. Then the wine is then typically “racked,” or moved to another container, leaving behind the sediment and fining agent.

If you’re vegan or suffer from severe egg, milk or fish allergies, I wouldn’t blame you for avoiding these wines altogether, even if there’s currently no significant evidence that the fining agents remain.

—Dr. Vinny

Ask Dr. Vinny

More In Dr. Vinny

What’s the difference between Tuscany and “super Tuscan” wines?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny shares a short primer on Tuscany's key wine designations.

Aug 8, 2022

What’s the minimum amount of alcohol in wine?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how "wine" is legally defined in terms of …

Aug 2, 2022

Why are some of Wine Spectator’s reviews "web only"? What does that mean?

Wine Spectator's resident wine expert Dr. Vinny explains why some of Wine Spectator's …

Jul 26, 2022

What’s the deal with wine “legs”?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the science behind wine "legs," or "tears," and …

Jul 18, 2022

What is “dry” wine? Aren’t all wines wet …?

Wine Spectator's resident wine expert Dr. Vinny explains what makes a wine "dry" vs. …

Jul 12, 2022

What does "père et fils" indicate on a wine label?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains a few of the French terms you might see on a …

Jul 5, 2022