Towards less allergenic wines

Sulphur dioxide is currently the preservative of choice for preventing decay in mass-market grapes during prolonged storage, but this can cause allergies, asthma and migraines.

A new preservation technique has recently been assessed by researchers at the University of Cartagena, Spain, which may offer new hope for allergy sufferers and, additionally, may boost the levels of antioxidants in grapes and wine.

Scientists writing in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture reported that ozone treatment was 90% as effective as sulphur dioxide at preventing decay and that ozone-treated grapes also contained up to four times more antioxidants than untreated ones, although the researchers could not give a reason for this.

Some wine-makers have already stopped using sulphur dioxide because they no longer store grapes for long periods, but they do still add sulphites to wine during the liquification process. Using ozone instead of the sulphites - which are also linked to allergies - could be another way of reducing the allergenicity of wine.

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First published in June 2007

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