Q: Is it possible to have an allergic reaction to some wines but not all?—Dorian, Los Angeles
A: Food allergies are adverse immunologic reactions to substances contained in foods or beverages, and wine is among those beverages that can cause such reactions. Among the potential allergens that wine lovers may be concerned by are gluten, yeast, oak, tannins and other chemical compounds. It's entirely possible that someone might experience a reaction to some wines but not to others, even among wines made from the same grapes in the same region.
Wine labels rarely indicate all the specifics of the winemaking process, and the devil is in the details when it comes to allergens. "There are many factors that go into making wine," says Dr. Ujwala Kaza of ENT and Allergy Associates in Brooklyn, N.Y. "Many winemakers use additives or preservatives (such as sulfur) in the process of winemaking [or] age their wine in specific types of casks (such as oak barrels). There can also be a wide disparity in the fermentation time or alcohol content of different wines." How a wine is made can have a big impact on whether or not it might cause an adverse reaction in someone with food allergies.
Consult your physician or allergist if you have any concerns about allergens in your diet.