Does Gluten-Free Alcohol Exist?

Red wine pouring into glass near the wine bottle

Alcohol is often made with gluten-containing ingredients. In this article, we will explore gluten free alcohol options suitable for gluten intolerants.

Does gluten free alcohol exist?

Yes, gluten free alcohol exists. While tons of hard beverages are naturally gluten-free, others are specially made for people with celiac disease [1]UChicago Medicine: What alcohol is gluten-free? and gluten sensitivity. 

With significant growth in the gluten-free market, many gluten-free alcoholic drinks are now available for consumers.

However, individuals with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity need to be careful when selecting alcohol, as some products may be manufactured in facilities that also manufacture gluten-containing grains.

Gluten free alcoholic beverages types 

If you are on a gluten-free diet and looking for alcohol, you might be surprised by how many gluten-free options you have. Here are some of the most popular gluten-free alcoholic beverages you may try:

Wine

Most wines are gluten-free because they are made from grapes. However, some wine manufacturers add gluten-containing ingredients during the manufacturing process. Therefore, people with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity should stick to labeled gluten free wine [2]Gluten Intolerance Group: Is Wine Gluten-Free…Or Not?.

Here are some wines you may try on your gluten-free diet.

  • Red wine
  • White wine
  • Vermouth
  • Port 
  • Sherry

Cider

Cider is a fermented fruit juice that is gluten-free by nature. Apple cider is the most popular variety.

However, gluten-containing grains are sometimes added to flavor cider. As a result, some ciders may contain gluten. Read labels carefully to make sure the cider you select is gluten-free.

Champagne

Champagne is a type of sparkling wine that is made of grapes. Since grapes don’t contain gluten, most champagnes are gluten-free.

Moreover, the fermentation process of champagne eliminates contact with gluten. However, some champagnes are made with gluten-containing barley to add flavor to them.

If you are diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, check the ingredients of the champagne.

Distilled Spirits 

Most distilled alcohols [3]Beyond Celiac: Is Liquor Gluten-Free? are generally considered gluten-free. This is because the distillation process removes gluten proteins.

However, gluten-containing grains may be used to flavor some distilled alcohols. Therefore, people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance should only drink labeled gluten-free distilled alcohol. 

Vodka

It is a distilled alcohol made from gluten-free grains such as corn, potatoes, and rice.

Although some vodkas are made of gluten ingredients like wheat and rye, it is safe to consume vodka on a gluten-free diet due to their distillation process.

If you are keen on gluten-free living, stick to gluten-free vodka brands.

Tequila

Pure tequila is made from the blue agave plant, which is naturally gluten-free. Even tequila mixtos are safe for celiac disease patients. This is because gluten proteins are removed during the fermentation and distillation process.

However, keep an eye on added flavors and cross-contamination.

Whiskey

Most whiskeys are gluten-free. This is because they are distilled from gluten-free grains like corn, millet, rice, and sorghum.

Nonetheless, some whiskeys are made of gluten-containing grains like barley and rye. Therefore, celiacs should be careful when choosing whiskey. If you are gluten-sensitive, make sure to select gluten-free whiskey brands.

Scotch

Scotch is a gluten-free alcoholic beverage. This is because gluten protein is not soluble in alcohol during the distillation process.Therefore, it is not present in the final drink.

However, some scotch drinks may be contaminated with gluten if made using wheat-based spirits or blended with other gluten-containing drinks.

Gin

Most Gins are gluten-free. Juniper, the main flavoring ingredient in gin, does not contain gluten. 

However, some gins may contain wheat, barley, or rye as a botanical ingredient, making them not gluten-free.

Rum

Most rums are gluten-free as they are distilled from sugar cane. However, gluten-containing ingredients may be used to flavor some types of rum. 

Consequently, people with gluten intolerance should check the ingredients in rum before drinking them.

Bourbon 

Most bourbons are gluten-free. This is because they are distilled from gluten-free grains like corn, millet, rice, and sorghum.

However, the mash for Bourbon must be at least 51% corn, but the remaining 49% can be any combination of wheat, rye, or barley.

And, since gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, gluten may be present in Bourbon. So it’s always best to check the label to be sure.

Liqueurs

Generally, liqueurs such as brandy, cognac, kahlúa, and Cointreau are gluten-free. They are made from distilled alcohol, to which sugar, fruits, or nuts are added.

However, gluten-containing grains may be used to flavor some liqueurs. Therefore, if you belong to the gluten intolerance group, you must check for gluten-free options.

Gluten-free Beers

Beers are traditionally made from gluten-containing grains such as wheat, barley,  and rye. As a result, most beers contain gluten.

However, some gluten-free beers are now available in the market. Gluten-free beer is made from gluten-free grains such as sorghum, buckwheat, and rice.

Note: Gluten-removed beer is not gluten-free. The gluten protein is removed from gluten-containing grains during the brewing process.

However, gluten traces may still be present in gluten-removed beers. Therefore, they are not a good option for you if you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

Shopping tips to buy gluten-free alcohol

Whether, at a party or just a casual night, alcoholic drinks are often a part of our social life. But if you have celiac disease, you need to be conscious when picking your drinks.

Here are some gluten-free alcoholic beverage shopping tips for you:

Check the label

According to the FDA [4]U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Gluten-Free Labeling of Foods, if a product is labeled gluten-free, it contains less than 20 ppm gluten. So, when you buy alcohol, make sure to check the label to see if the gluten content has been specified clearly. 

Check Ingredients

To ensure that your drink is completely gluten-free, check the list of ingredients. If gluten-containing grains are used to flavor the drink, then it’s not gluten-free. Here are some ingredients you should avoid:

  • Wheat
  • Rye
  • Barley
  • Spelt
  • Kamut
  • Malt

Contact the manufacturer

Contact the manufacturer if you can’t find gluten-related information on the label. They will be able to tell you if their product is gluten-free.

Conclusion

Knowing which alcoholic drinks are gluten-free allows you to enjoy your social life without worries. Just remember to look for alcoholic beverages that contain only gluten-free ingredients. When in doubt, stick to naturally gluten-free drinks such as pure distilled vodka, tequila, and bourbon.

References

References
1 UChicago Medicine: What alcohol is gluten-free?
2 Gluten Intolerance Group: Is Wine Gluten-Free…Or Not?
3 Beyond Celiac: Is Liquor Gluten-Free?
4 U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Gluten-Free Labeling of Foods

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