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Last Updated: Monday, 12 February 2007, 00:00 GMT
Allergy hope over wine preserver
Red wine
Wine can trigger a number of allergies, including asthma
A new technique for preserving grapes for mass-market wine may prevent the drink causing allergies, a study says.

Spanish researchers found using ozone to keep grapes fresh for wine was 90% as effective as sulphur dioxide, which is currently used by producers.

Sulphur dioxide is often linked to allergies such as asthma and migraines, the journal Chemical and Industry said.

But experts said there were other properties in wine that could trigger allergic reactions.

Sulphur dioxide is a common cause of these reactions, but it is not the only one
Allergy UK spokeswoman

Histamines and tannins, both of which occur naturally in wine - especially red wine - are also thought to cause conditions such as itchiness, rashes, diarrhoea and asthma.

A spokeswoman for Allergy UK said: "Sulphur dioxide is a common cause of these reactions, but it is not the only one.

"So this method might not solve problems for everyone."

The researchers compared grape storage using sulphur dioxide and ozone treatment.

They found ozone treatment was 90% as effective but, as it is a water-based gas, it carries none of the side-effects of sulphur dioxide.

Antioxidants

They also found that ozone-treated grapes had up to four times more antioxidants than untreated grapes. Researchers could not say why this happened.

Lead researcher Francisco Artes-Hernandez, from the University of Cartagena, said the finding offered real hope.

"This is a new technique which could be used to preserve grapes and help prevent allergies and boost healthy compounds at the same time."

Andrew Waterhouse, an expert on the wine-making industry from California University, said not all wine growers used sulphur dioxide as grapes were no longer kept for long periods of time.

Instead, he suggested ozone may be better used in place of another preservative, sulphites, which has also been linked to allergies.

He said: "The ozone process could be tweaked to replace problematic sulphites during the liquidation process, presenting the possibility of healthier, more hypoallergenic wines."


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