Is Wine Gluten-Free?

Wine is inherently gluten-free, considering that it’s primarily made from fine grape fruit. This drink can be perfect for those who have celiac disease but still enjoy having alcoholic beverages. Whether the content is red/white wine, brandy, cognac, sherry, vermouth or port wine you can still consume safely so long as the legal limit of 10 units per million fraction of gluten is not surpassed. Nevertheless, there are certain exceptions that consumers must know before taking this substance. If the drink has been infused with flavorings or colorings, then chances are that it may not be free from gluten after all.

Other Contaminants to Watch Out for

In some cases, wheat gluten can be used by a manufacturer as clarifying, or fining agent for wine. This control point process is more common in European countries than in the U.S, American wineries instead prefer using other forms of protein like egg whites. Nevertheless, even if substances containing this particular compound were used by the maker during fining, typically all unwanted residues from this procedure are sifted out to the tank’s bottom and left behind.

Similarly, sometimes the culprit may be wheat-based paste applied as sealant on wooden wine caskets used for aging. This practice is also more prevalent in Europe than America. The adhesive is applied for smoothening out barrel joints and not related to the manufacturing process in any way. However, if you still have doubts concerning the fermentation process then opt for wine brands that are not placed inside casks at whichever stage.

These are some of the reasons why certain individuals may react to some types of wine, despite them not having any mentioned additives. Symptoms exhibited are not imaginary but rather come from gluten sources that are otherwise non-suspect. Both these practices can add a small amount of gluten to finished products, with amounts ranging from 1-2 portions per million.

Though this proportion may seem tiny to some people, such that even the most sensitive gluten test kits may not even detect. Still different individuals have varying gluten thresholds and some will definitely react. Even so, a vast majority of those suffering from celiac disease report not exhibiting any symptoms by taking such wines.

Is Wine Gluten-Free? Recent Findings

Recently, The Wine Institute confirmed percolating form barrels is the only possible way that wheat can enter preserved wine caskets. They also mentioned that so far no evidence pointing to this phenomenal has happened. Though paste is usually applied sparingly on groove cuts for sealing purposes, excesses are also removed so that none can remain inside the container after work is done. Most casks are also rinsed with pressurized water before wine is added for fermenting.

Various trade organizations have conducted tests using ELISA kits and no findings have come back pointing to gluten in preserved barrels. These experiments were conducted prior to development of guidelines governing the labeling of top 8 allergens commonly found in modern wine brands. Concerns have however been raised that the tests aren’t specifically intended for wine, thus leaving a small margin of error. Currently, gluten allergen labeling by wine producers is voluntary, but Alcohol Trade Bureau is expected to soon draft rules that would be in tandem with FDA’s allergen labeling policies. Materials that would be included on the list of permissible products for treating wine shall most probably not feature wheat, or any of its known derivatives.

Those working on gluten-free diet have a wide choice of liquor beverages to pick from, the only thing to remember is that alcohol should always be taken in moderation. Wine is generally safe for celiac patients to consume, however based on the processes they undergo before final production some traces of gluten may be chipped in. Therefore, each individual should make their own personal decision based on past experiences and sensitivity levels. Luckily some wineries have nowadays ditched wooden casks in favor of stainless steel versions that are less prone to contamination.

It’s also worth noting that all wines contain traces of sulphite which naturally forms during fermentation, some people might react to this substance the same way they would with gluten. Though the traces are minimal and sometimes unnoticeable, highly sensitive people can still be affected. Sulphur dioxide can as well be added to liquor for long life and better preservation. This is especially so for white wine than red wine which contains higher amounts of antioxidants which naturally prevent spoilage.

Precautions

Before buying any specific brand, contact individual vineyards and get to know what clarifying agents they use. With the ever increasing popularity of gluten-free diets, more vineyards are seeking ways of making their products acceptable for clients who are sensitive to this substance. You can also contact the manufacturers and ask for which specific oak barrels they use for aging their wine. Another way to solve this problem is by using only wine products that have been matured in stainless steel barrels.

If you identify a particular brand that you like then stick to it instead of trying something new every so often, this reduces your chances of getting into contact with gluten-containing wines that may otherwise cause reaction. Some wineries can actually confirm that their products are free from this substance when clients call the customer service line, contact them before making any purchase.

Though chances are slim that purebred wine contains gluten, still there are no specific labeling laws in U.S which mandate manufacturers to reveal this information. But going forward the policy is likely to change as more people start getting aware of celiac disease. For those who have it, sometimes it can be a qualitative matter and not necessarily quantitative. Even if the amount of gluten appears negligible, sometimes one’s immune system may react by releasing antibodies to the villi which cause perforations on small intestines. It doesn’t matter whether this amount is large or small as the patient’s health will still be affected ultimately. Though wine is widely considered safe for gluten-free diet, still take no chances and ensure that the substance hasn’t been introduced during the production stage.

Sources

Brian Jackson

Diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis at 27 along with gluten intolerance that was off the charts; going gluten-free literally saved my life. Read my story.

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