Biogenic amines (histamine, phenylethylamine, tyramine)

Biogenic amines, such as histamine, phenylethylamine or tyramine, are able to arisen into food as degradation product of amino acids. These substances are responsible for the intolerance of some products, therefor the analysis of biogenic amines gives indications about tolerance of products.


Histamine is a nitrogen compound with allergenic effect.
This compound gets into wine through degradation of histidine to histamine and carbon dioxide, whereby formation of this substances is able to get going through spontaneous fermentation or malolactic fermentation. Rotten grapes as well as sloppy work favour the formation of histamine, whereby red wine have higher histamine contents as white wine.
Histamine can be removed more than 90 % out of the wine through bentonite treatment, this treatment leads to colour loss into red wine. There is no legal limit for histamine in wine into EU. Swiss have had a limit of 10 mg/l until 2010.
Allergy sufferers can react for histamine in wine with headache up to shortness of breath, dizziness and itchiness from 2 mg/l.

Histamine can also appear in other products like beer, so that tolerance can be influenced.


Phenylethylamine is a further biogenic amine, which is formed through decarboxylation of amino acid phenylalanine. In most of food the natural contents are very low and increase during fermentation and maturation.
This amine causes increased blood pressure and is suspected to trigger migraine.
Concentration of phenylethylamine in wine depends on quality of grapes. The rotten the grapes, the higher is the expected concentration of phenylethylamine into wine.


Tyramine is formed through decarboxylation of amino acid tyrosine and have also allergenic effects.
This compound is formed only in wine in measurable amounts, where a malolactic fermentation is done.


  • Methode
  • Limit of detection
  • Naturally content(wine)
  • Reason for the analysis
  • LC-MS/MS
  • Histamine: 0,09 mg/l
  • Tyramine: 0,31 mg/l
  • 2-Phenylethylamine: 0,03 mg/l
  • Depends of the wine type and the treatments
  • Control of the tolerability