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Wines aged in steel?

krissywats Oct 1, 2006 11:49 PM

My brother is allergic to something in the aging process of wine. We narrowed it down to whites being drinkable (he's also allergic to the histamines in reds) but even with whites he was hit or miss with having an allergic reaction (red neck and face, flushed feeling). At a winery it was suggested to us that he might be allergic to something in the casks and that he might try steel aged wines. So far that's worked like a charm but he's really limited.

What I would like to do for his birthday is find him some really great white wines (that I can ship) that are aged in steel and give him as much a variety as he can get, under the circumstances.....can you help? Thanks!!

  1. tigerd Aug 11, 2008 09:09 AM

    Wow, I have the same problem! My nose gets stuffy so quick, then I lose my sense of smell and then sneeze uncontrollably -- mostly with red wines. Are there any good steel-aged red wine recommendations? ... Thanks.

    1 Reply
    1. re: tigerd
      maria lorraine Aug 11, 2008 05:45 PM

      This may be a problem and it may not be. It's tough to tell what your or the OP's brother's problem is from your posting here.

      Your sneezing may be just a simple non-allergy rhinitis -- alcohol dilates the blood vessels in your nose and sinuses and gives you a stuffy nose and sneezing, but it's not an allergy or any cause for alarm.

      But sneezing can also indicate an allergy, and for that you need to get tested so you know what you're allergic to.You don't want to be avoiding foods or wines you don't have to, or worse, ingesting things you shouldn't be thinking it was another thing entirely causing your symptoms.

      You may have an allergy to histamines but many things other than wine would bother you if that were so. You may be the rare person who is allergic to alcohol, in which case all wines would bother you, so that's not it. But please see an allergist and get tested first.

      What was described in the original post is most probably either of two reactions. Flushing or redness experienced after drinking wine is usually a common alcohol enzyme problem, often found in Asian populations and in those who drink infrequently. It's usually "cured" by ingesting a very small amount of wine regularly. The redness and flushing involves the too-quick conversion of alcohol to acetaldehyde, a toxin which causes the instant redness, and the too-slow conversion of acetaldehyde into the benign acetic acid. Drinking a tiny amount regularly sometimes trains the enzyme to work correctly.

      Another possibility seems more likely in the OP's brother -- a hypertensive reaction (this is what causes headaches) caused by tyramines, found in high levels in both white and red wines that have undergone malolactic fermentation. In this case, the "buttery" white wines and all red wines are the ones to avoid.

      Generally, the wines that are never aged in oak barrels, and that only see a stainless steel (also called INOX or metalllico) fermentation tank are the wines that don't undergo malolactic fermentation and that don't have a troublesome level of tyramines. Which is why the OP's brother didn't have a reaction to wines "aged" in steel. The oak is not the problem, nor is the white wine or red wine itself, but the malolactic fermentation and the tyramines caused by it. Whether or not a white wine has undergone malolactic fermentation is probably not on the label, but if the wine label says it's been aged in oak, there's a good chance you want to avoid it. Lots of foods have tyramines too, and each person has a threshold for tyramines beyond which they will experience symptoms.

      In any case, I can't diagnose the problem from a distance, and since I'm not an MD, I couldn't do that even if you were in my office! Good luck.

    2. j
      jimtak Oct 27, 2006 08:34 PM

      check out http://www.awri.com.au/infoservice/wi...

      1. m
        Marco Oct 24, 2006 03:20 PM

        I believe many Sicilian whites are aged in steel. Look for Regaleali, Rapitala, Donnafugata, La Planeta, Fonda de Antica.

        1. n
          nkrtwx Oct 24, 2006 03:19 AM

          i have the same problem and it is my extreme allergy to oak that causes the problem. i enjoy lots of unoaked whites with no problem. how about reds? anyone know of any reds that aren't oaked? or am i just naive?

          1. Midlife Oct 13, 2006 07:01 PM

            From all I've read on the subject I would have to caution that histamines are found in all wine, though there's no doubt that reds deserve the blame on this more than whites. Recent articles are suggesting that the presence of polyphenols in reds is likely the source of the problem of headaches from wine. Maybe be there's a connection to allergies as well?

            For a time I was suggesting organic/biodynamic wine as a possible alternative, but literature also suggests that the fermentation process probably neutralizes most of the possible contaminates anyway.

            Much of what I've seen suggests that people with very low tolerance level for 'whatever' the source of the problem is, could just be out of luck. But......... so long as your brother can tolerate the side effects, wine is something I would find worthy of pursuit.

            It is curious, though, that there doesn't seem to be any real consensus as to what causes wine headaches and/or allergies. That kind of situation ususally moves me toward a probability that the causes are multiple.

            1. d
              dantheculinaryman Oct 13, 2006 03:09 AM

              correction, travis is unoaked.

              1. d
                dantheculinaryman Oct 13, 2006 03:09 AM

                Travis Chardonnay is unoaked, no malolactic, I think 92 points parker. Very good.

                1. waitress Oct 12, 2006 12:52 AM

                  Trevor Jones virgin is a rock star!!! One inexpensive all steel chardonnay is Toad Hollow.
                  Chapel Hill Chardonnay from Australia. Kim Crawford makes an unoaked chard.

                  1. r
                    rtmonty Oct 5, 2006 01:15 AM

                    Stelzner chard is non-oaked and is wonderful, very Burgudian. Available at the winery in Napa and probably a number of other places.

                    1. d
                      DonnyMac Oct 4, 2006 06:25 PM

                      Is your brother of Asian or North American Indian descent? Many folks of such ethnic bacground have a genetic flushing response to alchohol.

                      Also, your brother may suffer from rosacea, a skin/vascular condition that is often triggered by alchohol and in particular red wine consumption.

                      As for no oak chards, I second the Melville Inox recommendation. Even better, I find, are the no oak, no ML chards from Diatom (two bottlings, one of which is Clos Pepe). Both of those are pricey for regular consumption, though. Unfortunately, I don't think the Morgan Metallico is very good, although is is alot cheaper. There are alot of "Unwooded" Australian chardonnays now. Try the Wishing Tree or Trevor Jones ("The Virgin") versions. And there is a world of other white wines that are done in either stainless steel or concrete vats.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: DonnyMac
                        Chris Weber Oct 18, 2006 01:39 AM

                        A lot of Maconnais whites still are unoaked. These would include straight Macon and Macon-Villages at least. When you start getting into the A.C.s with a bit more cachet, the percentage of oaked wines goes up - so most Pouilly-Fuisse, for example, are oaked.

                        And all these are 100% Chardonnay.

                      2. h
                        Hapa Dude Oct 2, 2006 09:17 PM

                        I'm not sure how true this is, but even if a wine is aged in a steel tank, sometimes the winemaker will put wood planks or staves into the tank to give it some oakiness.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Hapa Dude
                          Chris Weber Oct 18, 2006 01:32 AM

                          It's true. And illegal in France at least. True nonetheless.

                          Except it's just wood chips. The rule is easy, if a wine is cheap but tastes oaky = chips. Can't do it otherwise, barrels are $$$. More common in the U.S. than France of course.

                        2. s
                          Sam B Oct 2, 2006 02:08 PM

                          At Verget, while the AC Chablis are tank fermented, all 1er Cru and Grand Cru are barrel fermented and aged.

                          1. p
                            psfoodgirl Oct 2, 2006 06:58 AM

                            Justin Sauvignon Blanc is another great one.

                            1. p
                              psfoodgirl Oct 2, 2006 06:55 AM

                              Morgan Metallico Chardonnay - fantastic, crisp love it!!Reasonable $$

                              Melville Inox Chardonnay very good.

                              1. b
                                BabyLitigator Oct 2, 2006 06:51 AM

                                Chablis (a white Burgundy) is generally not aged in oak. There are some great ones out there. I'm a fan of Verget on the low end.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: BabyLitigator
                                  Chris Weber Oct 18, 2006 01:34 AM

                                  Some Chablis are not aged in oak, many are. Try Domaine Louis Michel for one that never sees oak.

                                  Verget on the low end? He's pretty pricey.

                                2. w
                                  Winemark Oct 2, 2006 12:11 AM

                                  There are dozens of wines from New Zealand labeled "Un-Oaked". many, but not all, Sauvignon Blancs are fermented in Stainless Steel as well. See a reputable wine merchant.

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