Gluten free diets are becoming more and more mainstream. According to published reports, the number of Americans keeping a gluten free diet, be it for allergen requirement or personal preference, has more than tripled in the last five years. As this number rises, many of these people find themselves wondering how alcohol, and wine specifically, fits into their new diet.
What is Gluten?
The first thing to understand is what gluten is. Gluten is a substance made of two proteins and found primarily in wheat and grains (but also in rye and barley) that is responsible for the elasticity of the dough. That being said, your food or alcohol will be naturally gluten free if it does not contain wheat elements. While this generally rules out all beers from being included in a gluten free diet, it means that most hard liquors can be retained in a gluten free diet. Bourbon, scotch, rum, tequila and gin are all considered gluten free.
More good news? Wine, inclusive of reds, whites, and roses, are generally considered to be gluten free as well. Feel free to pop the cork on some champagne to celebrate the fact that you get to keep wine on your new diet, because champagne is considered gluten free as well!
Things to Watch Out For
There are still a handful of things you’ll need to keep an eye out for when it comes to wine though. Sometimes wine makers will use a wheat product in their barrels as part of the aging process. Other wines, such as dessert wines, use artificial coloring or flavor agents in their final products. These artificial additives may contain gluten.
Generally these fringe cases of finding gluten in wine won’t produce noticeable amounts of gluten. In these cases the gluten is so minor, generally less than 20 parts per million, and don’t present a problem in those who are choosing to be gluten free as a lifestyle choice or as the result of a gluten sensitivity. However, for those with Celiac Disease, you may want to call the manufacturer to inquire on the aging methods.
Beer Mostly is Not Gluten Free
In general, the only alcohol that presents a hard and fast “no” for those on a gluten free diet are beers. With the exception of hard ciders, which are made from fruits and are naturally gluten free, beers are made from barley- which contains large amounts of gluten. This applies to all beers, including lagers, light beers, craft beers, pale ales, IPAs and stouts.
There is a bit of good news for beer drinkers, though. As the gluten free fad soars, more and more breweries are beginning to filter their final products in order to remove gluten from beer. In these instances the beer will be specifically labeled “Gluten Free” and is required to have no more than 20 parts per million of gluten. Here’s a list of nine beers that are gluten free and still satisfying.