Can enologists measure histamine levels in wine?

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Can enologists measure histamine levels in wine?

Postby Paul B. » Sun Apr 09, 2006 11:18 am

Most of us know that "wine headaches" are not caused by sulfites in wine - despite what some of the dishonest hysteria surrounding suflites has tried to convey - but by histamines. I've had histamine headaches before - they've occured due to a variety of wines, always red, and always unpredictably. Happily, though, it's a rare occurrence.

This leads me to wonder whether enologists at wineries or anywhere else actually measure for histamine levels in wine? I would think that all reds have some of the stuff, but that the levels might be starkly elevated in those wines that are apt to cause some major sinus pressure.

Anyone know for sure?
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Re: Can enologists measure histamine levels in wine?

Postby Robin Garr » Sun Apr 09, 2006 11:22 am

Paul B. wrote:Anyone know for sure?


No, but I think it's extremely unlikely.
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Re: Can enologists measure histamine levels in wine?

Postby Randy Buckner » Sun Apr 09, 2006 12:38 pm

The variation is too broad to have any real meaning, bottle to bottle. I'm sure costs would be prohibitive for wineries to list same.

• 3-120 micrograms/l in white wine
• 15-670 micograms/l in champagnes
• 60-3800 micrograms /l in red wines and
• 21-305 micrograms/l in beers
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Re: Can enologists measure histamine levels in wine?

Postby Peter May » Sun Apr 09, 2006 2:24 pm

John

An interesting answer.

Can I join in and ask a supplementary?

Is there a simple way to measure residual sugar in a finished wine?

I know a refractometer is used in the vineyards to measure grape sugar and thus potential alcohol, but sometimes - increasingly - I open a bottle of red 'dry' wine that seems uncommonly sweet.

Can I measure sweetness at home?
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Re: Can enologists measure histamine levels in wine?

Postby Thomas » Sun Apr 09, 2006 6:08 pm

John,

Thanks for the ML reminder. I had read Thomas' paper when he issued it--quite enlightening. The ML connection means that some people who get headaches from white wine, might be getting the headaches from Chardonnay, which so many winemakers put through ML. We should try to find out about that. The next time someone says he or she got a headache from white wine, we need to ask which wine.

Also, Clinitest works for measuring sugar in white wine; I use it in my wine classe. But the color change is hard to see in red wine. For an accurate test, the wine's temperature needs to be no cooler than 20 centigrade. Also, used to be able to buy Clintest tablets in any pharmacy--the stuiff has been superseded by other diabetes tests and is now difficult to locate. I get mine from a home winemaker's supplier.
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Re: Can enologists measure histamine levels in wine?

Postby Dan Smothergill » Mon Apr 10, 2006 6:16 am

This leads me to wonder whether enologists at wineries or anywhere else actually measure for histamine levels in wine? I would think that all reds have some of the stuff, but that the levels might be starkly elevated in those wines that are apt to cause some major sinus pressure


Wonderful question, as the replies indicate. It is part of a family of questions about the relation between the physical properties of wine and the corresponding psychological effects. IMO these questions aren't asked often enough.

Paul's question, a very good one, has now set me in motion to analyze the customer who complains about headaches and I will be taking notes.


Ask whether they have allergies and use decongestants too. Allergic headaches are associated with an excess in the histamines the body normally produces. People with allergies might be hypersensitive to histamines. Any docs out there able to weigh in on this?
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Clinitest

Postby Dan Smothergill » Mon Apr 10, 2006 9:45 am

Using an eyedropper, put 10 drops of the wine sample in a small test tube and then drop in one tablet. The tablet and wine sample will cause a “boiling” reaction and color change. Carefully observe the color change during the reaction, making sure not to shake the test tube during this time or for 15 seconds after the boiling effect has stopped.
If the color changes rapidly from bright orange to a dark or greenish brown, then the wine sample contains more than one percent residual sugar and a second test with a diluted wine sample is required. Otherwise, after the 15-second waiting period, gently shake the test tube and compare the color of the sample to the color chart to determine the corresponding sugar concentration measurement.


This procedure, from Pambianchi's column in WineMaker magazine, can be easily misleading. I asked WineMaker to publish a correction but they haven't.

The problem is that you aren't told how to get from the observed color change to the sugar reading. The Clinitest Kit comes with two color charts: one for use with a 5-drop method and the other for use with a 2-drop method. But this procedure calls for 10 drops. What do you do?

The answer, provided by Fallbright, Vinquiry, and others is to use the color chart for the 2-drop method but divide the obtained value by 5. For example, the color Dark Brown (5th from left) is 2% on the 2-drop color chart. If you get that color with 10 drops, divide 2% by 5 to get an actual sugar reading of 0.4%.

The 10-drop method is for wines with less than 1% RS. A conversion chart, along with instructions for wines from 1% - 5% and for wines over 5%, was available last I checked from Fallbright, 10110 Hyatt Hill Rd., Dundee, NY 14837.
Last edited by Dan Smothergill on Tue Apr 11, 2006 10:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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