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Gluten in some wines?: Why celiacs may not need to cross wine off their list just yet.

I just had to share the following email correspondence between a customer and myself regarding gluten in wine. Surprisingly, I have not had to confront this question until now. I always assumed it was gluten free, as my celiac customers would buy their GF beer and a bottle of vino. Turns out, that’s not always true. The good news is that it takes a very, VERY rare and sensitive celiac wine lover to be affected. Read on…

 

QUESTION:

Dear Ashley,

I have read that a lot of wines will have gluten in them due to a wheat based paste they use to seal the barrels.  Also, some will even get cross contaminated from barrels being reused after making of barley based spirits.

What do you know?

M.

ANSWER:

Hey M.,

Thanks for the question! I have many celiac customers. All of them drink wine. If any amount of gluten (from clarifying or pre-barrel treatment), it’s so low it doesn’t affect any of them. We are talking LESS than 1 parts per million (ppm) in most cases, though it can be as high as 20 ppm, if you are extremely sensitive. Even ‘gluten free’ foods/beverages can have a small amount but not enough that it can’t declare itself GF. It does seem, however, that it is mostly linked to wine clarification and barrel sealing. Therefore, logic tells me stainless steel tank fermentation or concrete barrels would not have any gluten, or at least the lowest levels comparatively.

I am not a doctor, so I hate to tell you it’s totally fine. That said, you are likely in the clear. The best way to know is just by emailing the winery if the information is not readily available on their website. It may be a pain in the butt, but if you are severely reactive to gluten, it at least allows you to continue drinking wine if the liquid in question is, in fact, gluten free! And some wines DO claim to be ‘gluten-free’, at least according to: http://www.glutenfreefox.com/articles/gluten-in-wine.html.

Here are some other great sites that should help you decide if it’s right for you!

http://www.gfreefoodie.com/is-wine-gluten-free-the-answer-from-a-gluten-free-wine-drinking-foodie/ –This one was written by a celiac for the hopeful of heart. Very easy to read and gratifying if your end goal is to justify a continued relationship with wine.

http://switch2glutenfree.com/misc/is-wine-gluten-free/ –Very pro-wine as well. Includes a personal testimony from a winemaker who has a wine-drinking celiac wife. Even gives links to learn more about barrel production and wine clarification.
http://celiacdisease.about.com/od/glutenfreefoodshoppin1/f/Is-Wine-Gluten-Free.htm– Fairly cut and dry. Thumbnail explanation. The basic facts.
http://www.everydayhealth.com/blogs/the-/does-your-wine-contain-gluten– A hard-nosed opinion by a doctor who specializes on the topic. (Apparently, according to her, I should be taking wine consumption down to 3 glasses per week. I’m in trouble…)

Good luck and stay healthy!

A.

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About ahausman

Originally from Wisconsin, I moved to Colorado in 2005 in order to get closer to the mountains and rock climb. When it occurred to me that I would never make money with that hobby, I went to grad school. I received a masters in English and American Literature from New York University in May of 2009. I have since then opted not to pursue a PhD, for studying and writing about wine is far more fascinating (well, perhaps not moreso than Virginia Woolf, but still… for the long haul?). My favorite wines come from the old world, especially the Rhone, Burgundy, Rioja, Piedmont, and Tuscany. I am also smitten with roses, Italian hard-to-pronounce white varietals, and dessert wines from around the world. By day I run a wine shop. By nite, I sip and tell. It’s rough… but someone must do this.

Discussion

3 thoughts on “Gluten in some wines?: Why celiacs may not need to cross wine off their list just yet.

  1. Hi, Devon here from the Alliance. This is actually not related to gluten, but this article “What’s the world’s next hot wine region?” reminded me of your phylloxera discussion on Wednesday night. Apparently it is possible to taste authentic “Old World” wine…from the Canary Islands?!

    Posted by Devon | 10/01/2011, 3:18 pm
    • Hey Devon,

      So sorry it took a while to get back. It came across in my email as ‘unapproved’? Strange… Anyhow, funny article. Yes, it’s possible to taste ‘old world’ wine from any old world country. What makes the Canary Islands rare is that it is still original rootstock. This allows you to taste it in its most authentic form. Honestly, I haven’t had any of these wines, but I will attest to Jose Pastor Selections. Great importer with fine taste. He has a knack for finding incredible values around the world that are made with integrity and truly represent a region’s terroir. I would have to ask the person who distributes Pastor’s wines if any Canry wines come into this state. Now I am curious… Thanks for pointing me to this!

      A.

      Posted by ahausman | 10/04/2011, 1:50 pm

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