Biogenic amine from the amino acid histidine. The histamine is mainly formed during spoilage of food and is also produced during alcoholic fermentation. The main cause in wine is the breakdown of proteins by certain bacteria during the main fermentation. In the initial must it occurs, if at all, only in very small quantities. Red wines generally have higher values than white wines. A higher concentration is due to a lack of cellar hygiene, uncontrolled spontaneous malolactic fermentation and prolonged storage in wooden barrels. However, histamine can be almost completely removed by means of bentonite. Possible positive effects are vasodilatation and thus better blood circulation and lower blood pressure, stimulation of gastric juice secretion, and improvement of memory.
Less than 1% of the population is allergic due to a disturbed degradation mechanism of histamine. The negative effects are headaches (feeling of tension), hot flushes, breathing difficulties, runny nose, low blood pressure with increased heart rate and stomach and intestinal complaints with diarrhoea. The tolerance limit is about 2 mg/l wine. An extremely low histamine content is a quality feature. In wine, however, it is usually contained in much lower amounts than in fish (sardines, tuna), hard cheese, sauerkraut, chocolate and tomatoes. Together with histamine, the substances cadaverine, putrescine, spermidine, tryptamine and tyramine also occur. Claims such as "low in histamine", "histamine-free" or similar are not permitted for all wine-growing products. See also under alcoholism and health.