Red wine and eczema
Ah, red wine, full of health giving antioxidants such as resveratrol, a compound believed to have life-extending and weight loss benefits. Unfortunately for people with sensitive skin, red wine is also a common source of allergic-like reactions such as itchy skin and headaches. The main culprits here are the histamines and sulfates that most red wines contain. The good news is there are some wines that contain low amounts of these offending materials and if drunk in moderation should not cause too many problems. So what are these low histamines/low sulfate red wine varieties? Well, it really depends on where and how the wine is cultivated but I’ve been doing some experiments over the years and I have found at least two varieties that typically have a minimal affect on my skin.
The two wines I have found to have minimal effects on eczema and skin itchiness are both of Italian origin, although the grape varieties they are made from do not necessarily have to be made in Italy.
The first I have had some success with is a type of red wine called Sangiovese. The Sangiovese grape variety harks from Italy, however is more and more commonly being grown in other parts of the world.
Sangiovese is a mild, smooth red. It is not very potent and quite soft on the tongue. One or two glasses of this causes me no real issues, although like any alcohol if drunk in excess will probably cause skin problems.
The second is good old Italian Chianti (which contains Sangiovese grapes). Grown in the Tuscany region, this wine is naturally low in the sulfates and histamines that provoke skin reactions. Again, it really depends on how the wine is grown but I’ve found that choosing a Sangiovese or Chianti above other types of red wine has been my best bet at avoiding the unpleasant itchiness and skin reactions I’ve had in the past to red wine.
If in doubt it’s probably best to avoid alcohol when experiencing an eczema flare up. But if your skin is currently eczema free and you are looking for a red wine that is less likely to cause a flare up then try these two types of red. As always with this blog, these observations are based on my experience only. You may find that you can’t tolerate any red wine (or even any type alcohol). If you’re lucky and can tolerate some alcohols above others, then these two types of wines, being tolerable to me above other types, might work for you as well.
Edit: since writing this post I’ve found Beaujolais (french ‘new’ wine or table wine) and pinot noir red wines to be suitable for reactive skin types as well.