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Does wine contain gluten?

05/01/2022 Winemaking

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley or rye which is harmless to the human body in the first instance. However, there’s a proportion of people who suffer from celiac disease, so ingesting gluten can cause major problems for their health and daily lives. Gluten can be present in different food products so it’s important they’re all labelled correctly for easy identification. But what about wine? Does wine contain gluten?

We explain it to you here.

Celiac disease is an immune system condition which stems from a reaction to eating gluten and affects those diagnosed in different ways. It’s a multisystemic disease, which means it doesn’t only affect the digestive system, but can also cause extra intestinal affections. Sufferers experience symptoms ranging from diarrhea or constipation to weight loss, anemia or loss of muscle mass and it can lead to conditions such as epilepsy, early menopause, dermatitis or digestive cancer.

Giving up gluten isn’t a dietary indulgence for its own sake. For someone who has been diagnosed with celiac disease, the least difficult thing to do is to avoid wheat, barley, rye or oats in order to eliminate gluten intake from their diet. However, there are a significant number of foods and beverages which aren’t derived from any of these components but nevertheless contain gluten in their composition. A small amount, or even cross-contamination of foods which don’t contain gluten, but have been prepared in a place where traces of this protein remain, can trigger a series of reactions that put those with celiac disease at risk.

Gluten is used as a thickener and gives flexibility to doughs, so it may be included in pasta, pastry and bakery products, yoghurts, cheeses, sausages, pâtés, preserves, sweets, ice creams and some liqueurs.

What about wine?

A very important sentence mentioned on the Spanish Federation of Coeliac Associations website is the following:

"Being diagnosed with celiac disease doesn't have to stop you from going out and socializing with friends and acquaintances, as the vast majority of alcoholic beverages we consume are gluten-free or lose it in distillation or processing."

Wines and sparkling wines are gluten-free drinks, totally suitable for people with celiac disease, as they’re made from fermented grapes.

You may be wondering what happens to distillates made from cereals.

The gluten in whisky is lost during the distillation process, making it suitable for people with celiac disease.

Although wine is a gluten-free beverage, be careful with industrial sangrias and summer red wines, as they may contain gluten. If these drinks are prepared at home, with wine and soda, we can drink them without worrying. The problem is when they’re bought ready-made. In that case it’s better not to risk it.

Brandy, aniseed, gin, rum, tequila or sloe brandy are also suitable drinks for people with celiac disease.

Having a medical condition, intolerance or illness always limits our daily life in some way. So, it’s good news for all wine lovers who also suffer from celiac disease, to know this drink is totally suitable for your enjoyment, however, whether celiac or not, all consumption is best enjoyed in moderation. Let's say cheers! but wisely.