Alcohol Part I: Wines and Ciders

In gluten-free spheres, alcohol seems to be disputed territory.  My doctor and the nutritionist I saw when first diagnosed both told me different things: one indicated that grain alcohol (except for malts and beers) would be ok and the other said never to touch the stuff.

Alcohol is tricky not just because of the difference in medical opinion around the subject, but also because of the manufacturing guidelines around alcohol: in many cases manufacturers do not clearly disclose ingredients or their processes. I often find myself standing in the aisle of the local packie trying to figure out what is in that vodka: is it potato-based vodka or wheat-based vodka? How is orange liquor made and will it make me sick?

I have done some research on the subject, emailing companies and compiling lists. Here is what I have found.  This is the kind of thing that is really all about personal thresholds.  Some celiacs can have wheat-grain vodka and be fine and others…not so much.

Since this is going to take a while, I am going to post in parts.

Wine:

Wine is easy: it’s gluten-free. So are its friends, champagne and prosecco.

Exceptions: Sparkling wine coolers, ala Bartles & Jaymes, the 1980’s drink sensation.

Make sure you check the label or marketing information for indicators that barley is used

in the manufacturing process, generally, “malt”.

If you are looking for a nice local winery, I would visit the Nashoba Winery.  They have a variety of wines and hard liquors that they make on site with local fruits.

Hard Apple Cider:

Hard ciders are the apple / fruit version of beer.   Generally, ciders are gluten-free: made from fermented apples without barley (malt) or wheat.  Note of caution: if you stay away from yeast, do check with the manufacturer; some brands do use yeast.

Even though I have yet to find an apple or pear cider that has gluten, still check the label for indications that the cider may be malted.

I love:

Magner’s

Woodchuck

Other great options, which I have confirmed are gluten-free:

Strongbow

Wyder’s Cider – which makes a few fruit ciders – all g/f

Harpoon

Original Sin

The nice folks at Green Mountain Beverage, brewers of Woodchuck & Wyder’s, which also imports Strongbow informed me that they can certify that Woodchuck & Wyder’s, as they are made in a gluten-free facility in Vermont. Strongbow is made in the UK.  While the recipe does not contain gluten and they perform routine checks, Green Mountain cannot make promises about the production facility in the UK.

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3 thoughts on “Alcohol Part I: Wines and Ciders

  1. Thank you so much for compiling this list. Aside from googling every food/drink item before I consume it, I haven’t taken the time to really sit down and do any research. This makes me appreciate the time that other people have spent on it so much.
    Are you 100% certain about strongbow though? I had one yesterday as a desperate attempt to find a substitute for beer & I was miserable afterwards. I’ve carefully gone through the list of what I consumed and it’s the only questionable item.
    Anyway, besides the point. Just thanks.

    • Hi Whatever’s Left,

      Thanks for your comment, I am glad the post was useful. I used to drink Strongbow all the time when I was in London and was always ok. The manufacturer did say the recipe was gluten-free, however, in reading their email they did not say the US facility was gluten-free so there may be some cross-contamination. I know for a fact that Woodchuck is made in a gluten-free facility in Vermont. Please feel free to post more ideas or suggestions on the board, I am always looking for new things to research and write about.

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