What to Drink (and Not Drink) If You Have Seasonal Allergies

It’s no surprise that allergy season is epic this year. After a long rainy winter, we’re finally out of a multi-year drought and now the pollen is in full force. 

For me, it’s grass allergies, which have been torturing me since May. For those who have yet to experience allergies this year, beware – with July comes tree pollen and in August, weed pollen.

To make things even worse, wine lovers can experience extra suffering during allergy season. If you’ve been sneezing a lot post wine tasting, you’re in the tribe: histamine and sulfites, found in wine, can exacerbate seasonal allergies. Both chemicals are also found in beer, spirits and some foods. Red wines are the biggest culprits when it comes to histamines, having between 60 to 3,800 micrograms per glass versus white wine, which has between 3 and 120.

But all hope is not lost. There are still plenty of delicious adult beverages to enjoy during allergy season.

Wine drinkers should seek out white wines and wines that don’t have any additional sulfites added to them. The latter are often made by organic and biodynamic wine producers. My picks for this summer:

Quivira 2016 Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc ($18), a flavorful SB with melon and Meyer lemon qualities and a lush, silky mouthfeel.

Frey Vineyards 2016 Organic Chardonnay ($15), a fruity, bright stainless steel fermented Chardonnay sure to satisfy any palate.

Coturri Winery’s 2016 Carignane ($28), a light red made in the style of Beaujolais Nouveau, meant to be drunk now, chilled.

Benziger Family Winery 2013 Appellation Series Merlot, Sonoma Valley ($39) a hearty red filled with all the blackberry and blueberry pie you want out of a classic Merlot.

When it comes to spirits, stick to tequila, vodka and gin. They’re lower in histamine than other liquors. For vodka, stick to the plain types, as flavored vodkas can have higher histamine levels. If you want to drink local, grab these three for your liquor cabinet:

D. George Benham’s Sonoma Dry Gin is made in Graton and has a complex botanical nose of flowers and earthiness and a unique peppery flavor.

Pasote Blanco Tequila is produced by Sonoma-based 3 Badge Beverage in Jalisco, Mexico. It’s smooth, clean and has a bit of citrus at the start. Tasty enough to be enjoyed on its own.

Hanson of Sonoma Organic Vodka Original is small batch and made from local grapes. It’s not only organic, but also non-GMO and gluten free. It’s savory and smooth.

Beer, brown liquor, and ciders are high in histamines and sulfites, so stick to natural wines and clear liquors. However, if you want to feel your best and avoid triggering your allergies – take a break from the booze for a few months until your allergies subside.

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