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Gluten & Wheat Free Alcohol

Whether you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, finding gluten-free foods can be challenging, but choosing alcohol may prove to be more confusing. While there are products on the shelves that are clearly marked “gluten-free,” alcohol is not so clearly labeled. Gluten-free beers may be prevalent on some store shelves, but wine and liquor are not so easy to find.

When trying to avoid gluten, all packaged products need to be checked, including alcoholic beverages. Avoiding gluten is imperative when you have celiac disease because consuming gluten can be painful. Symptoms may include abdominal cramping, digestive discomfort, fatigue and energy loss. When choosing an alcoholic beverage, you may need to contact the manufacturer to verify that a beverage is gluten-free.

If a beer is labeled gluten-free, it is considered a safe alcoholic beverage for you to consume. Any other beer contains gluten either in the wheat used to make the beer or the yeast used for fermentation. Many mainstream companies are beginning to create gluten-free versions of popular beers. There are also gluten-free companies that only produce gluten-free beers. Common ingredients used for gluten-free beers instead of wheat and barley are sorghum flours, corn, rice and buckwheat.

Wine is thought to be gluten-free because it is made from grapes. However, when the wine is stored in barrels, there is a high risk for contamination. Sometimes, the barrels are sealed with a paste made of flour and water. The flour can contaminate the wine with gluten. While this type of seal is more common in European wine processes, some American wine makers use the flour water seal as well. Rarely, a wine will be labeled gluten-free. If you enjoy wine, contact the manufacturer of your favorite wines to find out if they use gluten-free manufacturing processes. Please note that wine coolers may not be gluten-free because they are made with barley malt.

Different liquors pose various questions regarding gluten. Some resources state that gluten is destroyed during the distillation process, but others disagree. Brown liquors may be colored with caramel coloring, which contains gluten. Some safe liquor options are tequila, made from the agave plant, martinis, made from corn and grape, vermouth, distilled from grapes, brandy, rum, gin, whiskey, and vodka.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.