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Wine and migraines: it could be histamines

Wine and migraines: it could be histamines

One glass too many and here's the headache. You may be intolerant to wine-related histamines and fermentation processes. But now there is a remedy

You know that slight headache that in no time can turn into a persistent migraine , capable of ruining the pleasure of tasting a magnificent redwine ?

Here, do not think of a divine punishment. Much more simply, the fault lies with an enzyme that should be there, but sometimes for someone it is not there or is deficient. And histamine , responsible for some allergic reactions , harmless to our body when this enzyme is present.

What is histamine

Doctor Eugenio Franzero , nutritionist expert in food intolerances, confirms that many allergic reactions - headache, itching, asthma, rhinitis, urticaria - are caused by histamine present in food products obtained from fermentation processes, such as some cheeses, beer, wine and alcohol. Histamine is a chemical mediator (substance that allows the passage of signals between cells) that acts as a neurotransmitter, a mediator of inflammation and allergic responses. It is naturally present in the human body as well as being found, as a "natural ingredient", in numerous foods, especially if seasoned, not properly preserved or fermented. Scientifically, histamine intolerance can be defined as a reduced ability of the organism to dispose of an excess of the same.

Fortunately, not everyone is subject to these allergic reactions: normally, in a healthy organism, the histamine present in food is quickly degraded by DAO , an enzyme that acts in the small intestine in order to prevent its absorption. However, it happens that some people lack or lack the sufficient amount of this enzyme and even a glass of wine can cause them a severe headache.

Today, for all histamine intolerant winelovers, there is good news: wines marked “ Low Histamines " (click here ) significantly reduce the possibility of an allergic reaction.

After 5 years of research developed by the international wine consultant [rebelmouse-image 25508334 alt = "131197" original_size = "1500x1000" expand = 1] Sebastiano Ramello , assisted by nutritionists and oenologist Osvaldo Veglio (in the photo opposite), the “Low Histamines" brand was developed which distinguishes wines with a histamine content below 0.5 mg / liter.

Some European countries have suggested the maximum recommended limits for histamine in wines: in Switzerland and Austria the maximum limit is 10 mg / l, in France 8 mg / l, in Belgium 5-6 mg / l, in the Netherlands of 3 mg / l, up to Germany where the maximum limit allowed is only 2 mg / l.
For now it is only a suggestion and not yet a law, so there is no obligation to declare it on the label.

Histamines are present in wine , especially the red one, with high tannins and aged in wood. The first wines in the world certified "Low Histamines" come from the Langhe and have a histamine content lower than 0.5 mg / l (red wines usually range from 4 mg / l to 20 mg / l).
To produce them is the Veglio Michelino & Son winery in Diano d'Alba (CN).
The doc and docg wines selected and certified by Low Histamines are Dolcetto d'Alba doc 2013, 2014 and 2015, Barbera d'Alba doc 2013, 2014 and 2015 and Diano d'Alba 2014 and 2015.

To understand better, we asked Sebastiano Ramello, author of the research and of the “Low Histamines" brand, for explanations on the matter. Here's what we discovered after a long chat with him.

Are the procedures carried out to lower the level of histamines in wine always natural?
Yes, totally. Any work is carried out following the Italian laws and the DOC and DOCG regulations. This is one of the reasons why "Low Histamines" has decided to select and certify wines with a histamine content of less than 0.5 mg / liter exclusively for denomination, so as to be sure that a legal specification is followed.

What is the method for reducing histamines in wine?
It mainly consists in the control of bacteria which, mainly during fermentation (deliberate or spontaneous), create histamines.

It starts in the vineyard and ends in the cellar
The process requires a control of the entire production chain, starting first in the vineyard, where the most naturalfertilizers possible are used (we have seen that certain fertilizers have an impact, albeit to a lesser extent), continuing with the harvesting of the bunches and ending in the cellar. .

What precautions must be taken in the vineyard?
We have noticed that the exposure of the land to the South facilitates, because it allows the grapes to be healthier and dry faster in case of rain or morning dew. Proper thinning, pruning and, above all, plant care is also important; in particular, of the bunch (and of the berries) during the ripening and in the last two months before the harvest, when it is necessary to avoid the start of spontaneous fermentation on the plant. For this reason we recommend a night harvest or at the first light of dawn if the days are still hot, as the sun and the bunches pressed on top of each other in the baskets can start a fermentation and a proliferation of bacteria. Once harvested, the clusters must be treated with care and transported carefully to the cellar, just to prevent them from being damaged.

What happens in the cellar then?
In the cellar it is important to control fermentation (malolactic conversion and speed in starting the winemaking process). It is also very important to work in an environment free of bacteria , in an extremely clean cellar and with sterilized steel tanks ( wooden barrels cannot be used as they contain bacteria). This part is 70% of the procedure to have a wine with a histamine content lower than 0.5 mg / l as required by the "Low Histamines". The remaining 30%, which concerns the processing in the cellar in the first 10 days, remains a secret for now because our research has dedicated the greatest effort and the greatest waste of time to this aspect in order to get to where we are today. Another important phase, also a secret one, is linked to the way the wine is stabilized in the bottle to avoid a sudden increase in histamines after bottling.

Are there any other winemakers low in histamines?
The use of the term "low histamine wines" is incorrect, as all wines could be high or low if not given a value. What "Low Histamines" did in its research path was to give a maximum value to the histamine content that a wine must have in order to improve and propose itself on a market dedicated to those sensitive to wines and food intolerant to histamines. . For this I can say with total certainty that currently there are only 3 "Low Histamines" red wines in the world: 2 doc, Dolcetto D'Alba doc and Barbera D'Alba doc and 1 docg, Diano D'Alba docg, both of the winery Piedmontese Veglio Michelino & Son who, thanks to his production system, had already been producing wines with a lower than average level of histamines for some time. The company thus started the experiment to obtain wines with the special qualities required by the "Low Histamines", so much so that today the oenologist Osvaldo Veglio is also an oenologist consultant for the "Low Histamines".

How are histamines in wine calculated?
These three wines recognized as "Low Histamines" have had different values for different vintages, values ranging from 0.1 mg / l to 0.4 mg / l according to the vintage and denomination. The exact value of the histamine content is indicated by the analyzes carried out by a laboratory recognized by the Italian government. The analyzes can be downloaded on the Low Histamines website.

Which wines naturally have less histamines than others?
Primarily the Dolcetto , if correctly produced following certain rules dictated by the "Low Histamines". In reality there are no wines with more or less histamines than others, but grapes and consequently wines that are better suited to processing in order to control the production of histamines, and therefore prevent or reduce it. White wines have a lower histamine content than red wines, this is also one of the reasons why "Low Histamines" has focused on red wines for the time being.

Dedicated to lovers of good drinking, even if intolerant to histamines ... Prosit!

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