If you can happily sip a glass of merlot all evening long without experiencing any unpleasant side effects, then you're likely in the clear as far as an allergy to red wine goes. But unfortunately for some folks, this delightful beverage can leave them feeling a little worse for wear — and sometimes even in danger.
Unpleasant side effects may be due to an allergy to alcohol in general, which can lead to some of the scarier symptoms, while others may stem from an intolerance to the components of wine specifically. And they can all cause different reactions. "In general an allergy causes an immune response whereas a sensitivity may cause a digestive response," triple board-certified physician Monisha Bhanote, MD, FASCP, FCAP, tells Bustle. Allergic reactions include breaking out in hives, coughing, and asthma-like symptoms, which is why a "true allergy can be life threatening," Dr. Bhanote says.
If you experience allergic symptoms after drinking wine, let your doctor know. "People are genetically predisposed to a real allergy and only an allergist can tell for sure," Dr. Nancy Simpkins tells Bustle. But as for sensitivities or intolerances, you may be able to spot those yourself.
"The sensitivity is actually more common than having an allergy," Dr. Bhanote says. "However, you can also have digestive symptoms with the allergy and you can also have runny nose and hives as a sensitivity symptoms. There is much overlap with the presentation of symptoms but the actually mechanism of action is different." With that in mind, read on for some signs and symptoms that mean red wine doesn't agree with you, according to experts.