Living gluten-free does not mean you can’t imbibe when the desire takes you (responsibly, of course). There are many gluten-free alcohol choices available, but we still need to have our gluten-free guard up and follow the same tips we use when gluten-free shopping. In other words, we MUST read the label to make sure there are no alternate sources of gluten listed or warnings such as “don’t drink if allergic to gluten”. If they include this warning, it’s generally because it’s not truly safe taking into account contain versus may contain thresholds.
Before we explore some of the best gluten-free alcohol choices available, let’s first look at a few truths involving fermentation and distillation when it comes to making all alcohol.
What makes some alcohol gluten-free?
Simply put, distilled alcoholic beverages are generally gluten-free and fermented alcoholic beverages are not, in most cases.
According to the The Gluten-Free Nutrition Guide (Tricia Thompson, McGraw-Hill, 2008),
“Alcoholic beverages are either fermented or distilled. Fermented and distilled beverages are made by first converting starch or sugar from a food source (for example, grapes, wheat, or potato) to alcohol, using yeast.
With fermented beverages, such as beer, the liquid removed from the mash (the mixture of starting materials) is boiled. If a gluten-containing grain is one of the food sources used to make the mash, the liquid removed from the mash is not gluten-free.
With distilled beverages, such as vodka, the liquid removed from the mash is not only boiled but also distilled. Distillation is used to increase the alcohol content of the beverage. When the liquid is boiled, the vapor is “captured” and cooled. The resulting liquid is called the distillate. Distillation separates substances that are volatile (meaning they vaporize) from less volatile substances. Protein is not volatile and does not vaporize. Consequently, even if wheat, barley, or rye was used to make a distilled alcoholic beverage, gluten-containing proteins will not be found in the final distillate.”
Gluten-Free Wine, Beer, Cider, Liquor, and Liqueurs
Wine (red, white, sparkling, Prosecco, and Champagne)
Most wine – including sparkling wine, Champagne, and Prosecco – are naturally gluten-free.
Caution should be taken with wine cocktails, coolers, and flavoured wine so be sure you read the label. If in doubt, err on the side of caution and drink plain wine, Champagne, or Prosecco.
Beer is not distilled. Beer is fermented so it’s processing is different. It is also generally made with barley which contains gluten. The testing method for barley-based beer with the gluten removed has not been validated as yet so it is best to avoid barley beer even if it claims to be gluten-free at this time.
Luckily, there are still plenty of craft brewers making gluten-free beer available. Research what gluten-free beer is available in your area. Call stores or manufacturers to get information that may not be readily available. Hopefully, the increase in popularity of gluten-free foods will spill over into the beer market.
Alcoholic or Hard Cider
Generally, alcoholic or hard cider is always gluten-free as it is typically made by fermenting apples with sugar and yeast (that is also usually gluten-free). Alcoholic or hard cider can be a good alternative if gluten-free beer is not available.
Having said that, don’t forget to read the label to make sure there are no additives or flavours that contain gluten. If it does not say that it is gluten-free and you are unsure of the ingredients, pass on it. It could be that it is manufactured on equipment that is also used to produce beverages with gluten. Wait until you can research and/or contact the company to confirm. Also, NEVER confuse alcoholic or hard cider with apple ale (beer flavoured with apple containing gluten).
- Southern Comfort
- De Kuyper (Triple Sec and other brands)
- Grand Marnier
- Creme de Menthe
- Creme de Cacao
**Always read the label to check for flavors that might contain gluten.
Use these apps if you are looking to expand your gluten-free cocktail repertoire or looking for a good wine pairing. Take caution with mixed drinks as they can contain gluten. If unsure, substitute with mixers you know to be gluten-free. Better to be sure.
You have alcohol, some beverages and fruits and wonder what cocktails you can make? My Bar is for you. Just choose what ingredients you have and My Bar will show you a list of all cocktails you can enjoy and offer to your friends.
Cocktail Flow features beautifully presented cocktail recipes with step by step guides and is packed with features you’ll love whether you’re a novice bartender or a professional mixologist.
With 50 million users, Vivino is the world’s largest wine app and marketplace empowering people everywhere to enjoy wine to the fullest. Vivino provides wine drinkers access to unbiased information about wine from a community of millions. Buy the right wine every time!
This app from Wine Paradigm gives access to the comprehensive food pairing features in Pocket Wine (a popular wine app in the USA, UK and Canada). It gives you a detailed index of hundreds of meal types, showing you the best matches for different wine styles, grape varieties and blends. A “Do’s & Dont’s” section, along with a “Quick Guide To Food Types” provides valuable and easy to follow information enabling you to discover even more unique food and wine pairings for yourself.
We hope this helps you make the best choices that won’t interfere with your dedication to living gluten-free. What are some of your favorite gluten-free alcoholic choices? Have you found a great gluten-free beer? Please share with the GFF community so we can all indulge and enjoy responsibly 😊
Cheers to all my GFF BFFs!