Being gluten-free can seem exhausting. Having to check – and double check! – whether products are gluten-free takes time and practice. It also requires vigilance. Sometimes you just want to relax with the occasional glass of wine.

But is wine gluten-free?

The good news is that the vast majority of wine is made from grapes and is thus naturally gluten-free. That means that wine is generally safe for those with celiac disease and other gluten intolerances. This is true whether you prefer red, white, or rose.

However, the subject of gluten-free wine can get a little tricky, so it is important to pay attention to what options will and won’t work for you. Just because an adult beverage contains the word “wine” that doesn’t always mean it actually contains wine… or is gluten-free.

The following types of wine are gluten-free:

  • Red, White, Rose
  • Sparkling wine / champagne
  • Ice wine
  • Sake
  • Rice wine
  • Fruit wines
  • Honey wine (mead) when brewed without gluten-containing grains

The following types of wine are NOT gluten-free

  • Barley wine
  • Wine coolers
  • Honey wine (mead) when brewed with gluten-containing grains

While a traditional wine cooler mixed at a bar will contain wine, fruit juice, and perhaps some carbonation and sugar, nearly all wine coolers are prepackaged products that don’t contain any wine at all. Rather, these beverages are based on malt alcohols.

Much like many beers, malt beverages are the result fermenting barley, which is one of the major gluten-containing grains. Barley should never be consumed by someone avoiding gluten due to celiac disease or other health concerns. Therefore malt beverages – and the vast majority of wine coolers and hard lemonades– aren’t an option for the gluten-free lifestyle.

Delicious Alternative: Gluten-Free Cider

Looking for a casual gluten-free alcoholic beverage to replace your wine coolers or hard lemonades? Hard cider is a tasty choice. Made from apples, cider has a light fizz to it, has a similar alcohol content to wine or beer, and is naturally gluten-free. It’s an excellent replacement beverage at any event where beer and wine coolers would be appropriate.

Increasingly, cider also comes in fruit varieties that are mixed with the apple base. Hard ciders like raspberry, pear, or pumpkin are commonly available wherever you normally buy beer. While cider is naturally gluten-free, and an increasing number of cider companies prominently label their beverages as such, it is always important to always check the ingredients list if you aren’t sure.
If a cider contains malt or barley, it will be clearly labeled on the ingredients list.

When living gluten-free remember to always check the label and to always drink responsibly!

Feeling confused and overwhelmed on ‘what is gluten’?

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