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Is Wine Gluten-Free?

I love wine.  I don’t drink wine to get drunk; I drink wine because I love the taste & the experience the flavor lends to a good meal.  When I first started the gluten-free diet over six years ago, I mourned the passing of my beloved Amstel Light, but was somewhat comforted with the fact that wine was gluten-free, or so I had been told.

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Fast forward a few years and I began to hear rumors on the internet of some wine potentially containing gluten!  NO!  The rumor was that some winemakers coated the insides of barrels with wheat-based paste or material.  I could never find any concrete information to back this up, and I wasn’t getting sick when I drank wine, so I left it be.

As I was catching up on Twitter the other day, I ran across a discussion on the Udi’s community page about this very topic.  Alta, of Tasty Eats at Home, mentions an article where this is discussed further, which I found helpful.  It seems the general consensus is that gluten is not used in winemaking and the barrel-coating process is “old school”, therefore making wine safe for those following the gluten-free diet.  Of course if there is any concern, a call can be placed to the manufacturer.

What has been your experience?  Do you drink wine?  Have you had any gluten-like reaction from drinking wine?

****Update:  An excellent article written by Peter Bronski on this topic.  Make sure to check it out!

**Don’t forget to head over to enter the Rudi’s giveaway – it ends tonight!!!

17 comments to Is Wine Gluten-Free?

  • Kim, read below from Tricia Thompson. :-)

    "After looking into wine aged in oak barrels sealed with wheat paste, I really don't think this is much of an issue.

    Wine fined with hydrolyzed wheat gluten is a bit more interesting. Hydrolyzed wheat gluten may be used to clarify red wine and white wine (at least on occasion in Europe). This information is based on an application to the European Food Safety Authority to exempt from allergen labeling hydrolyzed wheat gluten when used as a fining agent for wine. According to the applicant, 100 mg/kg or 100 ppm of hydrolyzed wheat gluten would be found in wine if the hydrolyzed wheat gluten was not removed during filtration. However, there are multiple filtrations and the applicant claims that less than 27 mg/L or 27 ppm of hydrolyzed gluten would be left in the wine.

    EFSA concluded that wines treated with hydrolyzed wheat gluten could trigger an allergic reaction and the request for exemption from allergen labeling was denied. The document also states that hydrolyzed wheat gluten was only recently introduced as a fining agent for wines. This document was published in 2004.

    It is very important to remember that hydrolyzed wheat gluten is not generally used as a fining agent and it is difficult to assess the gluten content of products containing hydrolyzed wheat gluten. In my opinion it is ill-advised at this point in time to recommend to patients with celiac disease that they avoid wine because of the slight possibility that the product was fined with hydrolyzed wheat gluten.

    That said, this issue does deserve our attention. Unfortunately, the TTB does not have mandatory allergen labeling. However, in the fall of 2012 it will be much easier to determine whether a wine sold in Canada contains protein from wheat (due to allergen labeling law). At this time I plan to test wines labeled as containing wheat protein. Hopefully they will test just fine."

  • You are quite welcome. I had to come up with this a couple of weeks ago after a doctor in Columbus told my patient to stop drinking red wine because it had gluten in it. Sigh…

  • Becky

    One of the (many) things I told a gastroenterologist who failed to diagnose my gluten problem was "My stomach hurts when I drink beer, but not wine." He didn't pick up on that clue, but the wonderful doctor who diagnosed me saw it in my records and said "You were giving him all the right information!" I have no problems with wine, and I also love hard cider (although there are a few that contain gluten, most do not). I drink distilled spirits very rarely, but haven't had problems with them, either.

  • I too love my wine! I've never had a problem with wine drinking :)

  • Erika

    Great to hear other people are talking about this. I definitely notice most times when I drink a french, australian or italian wine I feel awful…so I always stick to domestic, without issues!

  • When I lived in Portugal, I was invited to go to a winery on a tour. I ended up not being able to go and someone posted their pictures of it and I saw flour all over the place: the barrels, the floor, etc. So I was so glad I didn't go. Now I do email and ask any company whose wine I'm considering drinking just in case.

  • Alta

    Great blog post! Thanks for bringing to light this topic from the Udi’s Group. I certainly don’t want to give up wine, but it seems I have hit and miss issues with it. It’s definitely worth it, for me at least, to stick to wines I know are okay. Mind you, the article I read mentioned that only red wines were ever fined with gluten, so if you’re a white wine person, this doesn’t apply. (I figure I never have issues with distilled alcohols like cognac, so I always have that option!) great topic for research and discussion! Thanks!

  • [...] Is Wine Gluten-Free?  Check out the discussion & weigh in. [...]

  • [...] Bars » Gluten-Free or Not? Wine. It was once again brought to my attention that while the majority of wine is gluten-free, it may be aged in oak barrels that are sealed with wheat paste.  According to a recent study [...]

  • Shannon

    I am recovering from a gluten attack! Almost as bad as childbirth! I thought I was dying! I am trying to change my lifestyle for the entire family.

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