Is Wine Gluten Free? How Does Gluten Get Into Wine? - Wine Turtle

Is Wine Gluten Free? How Does Gluten Get Into Wine?

This post was updated on: December 1, 2018

Is Wine Gluten Free? How Does Gluten Get Into Wine?

Is Wine Gluten Free

Wine is loved by many consumers not only for its taste but also for the benefits it has on the body. But with the development of more and more dietary intolerances, a question that arises is, is wine gluten free?

In its natural form, wine contains antioxidants that are beneficial for the heart. In a world where stress reigns, it is useful to have a glass of goodness in the evening to reduce the impact negative events have on our lives.

Not only, but wine also boosts circulation and keeps cholesterol levels at bay.

Yet, celiac people are always wondering whether wine can bring health benefits for them too. Is this beverage good or detrimental to them, meant to aggravate their autoimmune condition?

To answer this question, and to understand why gluten is a concern, it is essential to take a step back and understand the basics.

What Is Gluten?

This is a general name for proteins found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye to name just a few. This means gluten is present in all foods that are made from or contain traces of the cereals mentioned above. And as odd as it may seem, it is not rare to find gluten in foods that you hardly expect to contain it.

Effects of Gluten on Some People

Grains such as oats, rye, wheat, and barley are used to make many alcoholic beverages. If you are sensitive to gluten, these are indeed not a safe choice of a drink. Celiac disease makes the intestines too sensitive to gluten found in grains and wheat, resulting in a myriad of symptoms, including migraines, fatigue, and digestive issues, among others.

The celiac disease is a severe autoimmune condition which is potentially life-threatening, and even minimal exposure to gluten can have devastating effects on these individuals, causing irreversible intestinal damage.

On the other hand, non-celiac gluten sensitive people get allergic reactions from gluten exposure. Even though mild in nature, they should still determine you to go for a wine that contains no gluten or has minimal traces of it.

Does Wine Really Contain Gluten?

Wine is made from grapes and since they do not have gluten is thus considered gluten free. However, traces of gluten might find their way in it during the processing period. It all depends on what the winemaker uses for the process as it might result in an amount of gluten in the end product in some cases.

For it to be considered gluten free, wine should not contain detectable traces of gluten. This is the acceptable limit apart from a few exceptions to the rule. These include wine that has flavor and color added to it and also bottled wine coolers. So, how exactly does gluten get into that bottle of wine made only from grapes?

How Can Gluten Find Its Way Into Wine?

Wine consumers that are particularly sensitive to gluten might get a surprise reaction to wines made only with grapes. This does not mean, however, there are any additives in the wine they take. Nevertheless, there are a couple of ways gluten might end up in wine when it is being made. Here’s a look at some of them:

  • Wheat paste sealant: is used for sealing wine casks in which wine is aged to prevent leaks. This sealing method is rarely used nowadays, but some traditional winemakers still prefer it to the modern barrels. Since wine paste seals the casks from the inside, it is possible that traces of gluten end up in the wine.
  • Fining agents: are used to clarify the wine and stabilize it, and can be made from a variety of substances including egg whites and even gluten. The amount of gluten that sneaks into wine through fining agents is negligible and rarely triggers a reaction, even in the celiac people. In fact, the quantity rarely exceeds 20ppm of gluten.
  • Wine coolers and other wine-based beverages: some ingredients of these wine products such as malt and barley contain gluten. These alcoholic products are usually not included on wine labels thus exposing the consumer to gluten.

How To Get Gluten Free Wine?

Although the quantity is negligible, some people might react to the little gluten wine contains. This doesn’t mean, however, you should stop drinking wine. Since wine is made of grapes, it doesn’t naturally contain gluten. Which means you just have to source all natural wine from one of your favorite wineries. Here’s how to do it.

  • Get in touch with individual vineyards. This is with an aim to find out the fining agents they use in their wine. As more people are keen on a diet that does not contain gluten, many vineyards use fining agents that address this need. However, it’s always advisable to check before buying.
  • Go for wine aged in stainless steel casks. This way you do away with the risk of getting symptoms from the wheat paste that is used for sealing wooden wine casks. There is a lot to choose from therefore go ahead and discover a brand that works for you.
  • Stock up. After you find a brand of wine that does not give you gluten like symptoms, keep a stock of it. This guarantees you have safe wine to drink in the coming days and saves you from being careful of what you get at the store. You may even decide you want to stick with the particular brand of wine after that. An easy method to store wine is by investing in a good wine refrigerator with a capacity that suits your needs.

Other Ways of Getting Gluten Free Wine

The only way for wine to have gluten in it is through agents used for sealing and fining. One sure way for you to be sure the wine you drink does not contain gluten is to go for a young wine that has not been through the aging process.

If you don’t really have a preference for one type of wine, it’s an excellent idea to give whites a try.

These wines rarely go through the aging process, so they are not exposed to any wheat paste sealant.

However, remember you still have to check what fining agents have been used for making your wine. And remember that most wineries don’t specify this particular on the label.

Gluten or Gluten-Free?

The question begs answers especially for people who are keen to avoid gluten in their diet. Luckily, more and more winemakers give up to fining agents and wooden wine casks to prevent producing a wine that contains traces of the protein.

Since in its natural form wine doesn’t contain gluten, a safe way to source gluten-free wine is by buying from a winery that promotes standardized winemaking processes and uses selected fining agents which guarantee the lack of gluten in the end product.

It is also worthy to note that even when wine does come in contact with gluten, the traces contained in a bottle are almost always negligible.

As far as the standards of the amount of gluten that is permissible for consumption are concerned, you find that wine is mainly gluten free as it might only contain minimal amounts of gluten, if at all. This then erases the fear among people that are careful not to consume gluten for health reasons.

Therefore, going by the fact that most wine does not produce any symptoms among people with either celiac disease or with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, it is safe to regard wine as gluten-free. That’s because only a small percentage of consumers actually get symptoms after drinking wine.

Considering many wine producers no longer age wine in wooden casks eliminating the use of wheat paste as a sealant, the chance of getting gluten into wine are even fewer.

These facts lead back to the question of whether the wine is gluten-free or not. Going by the facts above it is safe to assume there is no harmful gluten found in wine, after all.

About the Author

Although not having any formal training in wine, Tim has developed an irrefutable love wine and interest in anything related to it ever since he was a little kid. Coming from a family of wine lovers, it was from a young age that he got exposed to wine and the culture that goes with it and has been addicted ever since. Having traveled to dozens of wine regions across the world including those in France, Italy, California, Australia, and South Africa and tasted a large selection of their wines, it is with great joy that he hopes to share those experiences here and take you along on the journey.

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