A simple fix to your wine’s nasty side effects.

By Hana Hong
May 07, 2020
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Like most people, I love to mellow with a glass of wine in the evening. From the moment it’s poured into the decanter (call me ~fancy~), it’s a sensual experience. I genuinely enjoy its volatile aroma, the alcoholic taste darting across your tongue, and the lingering flavor that it imbues after you swallow. But with these pros comes a huge con—my “party buzz” also looks a bit different from the average person.

It starts almost immediately, within the first few sips. No more than a gentle warmth in the cheeks, as if you were blushing from something embarrassing. It’s nothing you couldn’t ignore or that would attract attention if you were drinking with friends. 

But the sensation escalates exponentially as I continue to drink, and as the blood vessels in my face dilate, the heat crawls to my earlobes and my beet-red cheeks look as if they’ve been through a bad sunburn. A thudding headache creeps in. By the time I’m halfway down my glass, my nose starts to run and itchy bumps begin to form on my skin. My heart pounds fast as if I’ve just ran a half-marathon. And if I decide to finish the glass? My breathing becomes labored and wheezy, almost like an asthma attack or as if an especially dander-heavy cat just sauntered into the room.

Is it an allergy? Karmic retribution for a night out? A drunken Internet search may have you paranoid about some serious dangers, along the likes of high blood pressure and alcoholism. These symptoms sound disconcerting, but in truth it’s a fairly common condition. Dubbed alcohol intolerance, or “Asian glow,” approximately 540 million people around the world experience this, including about one-third of people of East Asian descent. Symptoms vary from person to person, but the most common giveaways are nausea, hives, headaches, and having your face turn as red as the wine in your glass.

If your face also turns into the shade of an Oompa Loompa after a few drinks, you’re not in danger. It’s just an indication that your body doesn't process alcohol very well—comparable to lactose intolerant individuals unable to digest dairy products. In more scientific terms, the flushed skin is your body’s way of letting you know that it’s not metabolizing alcohol the way it should be. Blood pressure skyrockets when alcohol is consumed, and the liquid is broken down into a compound called acetaldehyde. When your body cannot metabolize the compound during this process, the blood capillaries in your face dilate, resulting in a visibly blotchy face.

This inability to drink can be seen as a social disadvantage, but that doesn’t mean you need to shy away from the camera at every happy hour or bid adieu to your favorite wine bottles. I’ve learned a few hacks over the years to control it, like spacing out drinks, eating a meal before I drink, or stepping outside.

And my biggest hack? Wine filtration. 

My supply comes from PureWine, an FDA-compliant and BPA-free brand that has developed a patented NanoPore filtration system that doesn’t add any harsh chemicals to your wine.  It works by removing both histamines and sulfites that are responsible for the glow from an entire bottle of wine. That means no headaches, congestion, or pesky Santa Claus cheeks.

I was skeptical when I first ran into the invention on my social feed, but now it’s an irreplaceable element of my bar cart. You just screw the tube into the bottle opening and pour your glass like you normally would; the add-on purifies and aerates as you pour. And here’s another bonus: It even restores oxidized wine to its natural state, meaning you can enjoy that bottle you opened a week ago as if it’s brand new.

If you’re out at a bar or don’t have the option of popping a whole filter on the wine bottle, they also have filtering wands for the perfect by-the-glass solution. And you don’t have to worry about compromising the taste of your drink. As long as you don’t let it soak for too long (three minutes is ideal), it won’t change the natural taste, aroma, or color of the wine.

With the help of these filters, the only side effect you’ll have to experience after a night out will be a normal hangover come morning (and a greasy slice or a hearty, homemade smoothie can help with that).

To buy: $10 for the Wave; drinkpurewine.com; $10 for the Wand (4-pack); drinkpurewine.com.