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Snooth User: bakingbarb

New here and questioning Allergen in wine

Posted by bakingbarb, Mar 16, 2010.

 Hi, new here!

 A few years ago I found out I have to go wheat/gluten free. Before this I wasn't really a wine drinker, more into micro brews. After going wheat/gluten free I assumed wine would be a great alternative as there are so many choices. Unfortunately I was wrong. Wine is naturally wheat/gluten free, while it seems dumb of me to even have to mention that, it isn't as simple as it sounds.
 At a party the other night there were some wonderful wines to try and I did. I also became ill which happens when you have a food your body cannot digest. Yeah you could blame it on the booze but it isn’t anything like having a hangover.
I’ve taken to calling and emailing companies to ask if the wines are safe for someone wheat/gluten free and the answer tends to be NO. I will include an email to back this up.

 Question is does anyone know anything about this?  

There are only a few wines I can say I know for certainty is safe for me to drink so for now am limited to a few brands.   I've really started to enjoy the variety of wine out there but it really is sad to be so limited. Of course I can just go ahead and try a new wine and wait to see if I react to it or not. This isn't a great idea though as it's akin to eating a food one is allergic too.


Reply by dmcker, Mar 16, 2010.

So what are the issues with wine to someone who's gluten intolerant? Any details to help understanding (and possible suggestions)? Without knowing more it's not possible to recommend wines that are organic/biodynamic, or whatever....

Reply by bakingbarb, Mar 16, 2010.

Dear Barb
Thank you for your e-mail inquiry regarding gluten in our wines. Generally
speaking, wine is gluten free.  However it is a common practice for barrel
makers to seal the barrel heads (the top and bottom of a barrel) with a
wheat paste. The paste is applied to the barrel in an area that doesn't
directly contact the wine, and all barrels are washed inside and out by the
barrel maker and by the winemaking team prior to use. While it is uncommon
for the wine to come in contact with the paste, there is still no 100%
guarantee that the bottle of wine will not contain gluten.

If you have further questions we encourage you to contact your physician.
Best Regards
Margaret, Red Diamond Concierge

Reply by bakingbarb, Mar 16, 2010.

The issue is in the easiest way to explain is: it is the same as digesting an allergen.  I've only found 2 companies that admit to being gluten free but I have to email or call.  I am asking if anyone has any knowledge regarding this issue. Any companies they know of that are easier to deal with then others. I don't speak French or Italian, know any that are global enough to answer the question? etc...


Reply by GregT, Mar 17, 2010.

Seems like you'd be safer not drinking any wine that was put into barrels.  So keep to crisp white wines that are done in stainless steel, or red or white wines that are done in cement tanks or are not made with barrel aging. 

There are many such wines.  Some of the young wines from all over the world are made to be consumed early and they have no wood - Spain, France, Italy, Portugal, Austria all make such wines, as do many producers in Argentina and Chile and South Africa.

In the US it may be harder to find reds that have no wood, but you can always ask.  Sometimes the back of the bottle may give some information - for ex, it may say 6 mos in barrel, etc.  That tells you not to try it.  Sometimes it will say unoaked, and that's a good thing to look for. 

Insofar as I know, there is no law regarding this in any country.  Never researched it though, so I'm not certain.  However, DO NOT rely on the absence of information on the label to draw a conclusion because this can be misleading, in spite of what others may tell you.  Morellino di Scansano, for example, as far as I know, doesn't go into barrels, but you should check.  In Spain they have a category called "joven", that some people mistakenly think means unoaked.  That's not true at all and a joven can be in barrels for a long long time. 

In addition, if it's the wheat paste that is the issue, many wines are made by putting oak staves into the tank.  Those provide some of the flavoring of the wood but since there is no barrel and hence no need to seal the barrel, you don't get the wheat.

Also, in very old barrels, there is often a build up of crystals from the wine and that should in theory protect the wine from coming into direct contact with the barrel.  But again, if it's a health issue, I'd check w a chemist first.

Sorry to hear about your problem.  It's something I never would have considered. 

Reply by bakingbarb, Mar 17, 2010.

Greg, great info thank you. I assumed if wine wasn't in barrels it was considered lower quality? 
 I guess that explains why some of the cheaper wines are ok for me lol Oh man I have a lot to learn.


I am loving Pinot Noir and it is a really cheap brand that doesn't make me ill.


Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Mar 17, 2010.

I suffer from celiac disease, and to my knowledge have never had an adverse reaction from wine.

I would guess that it is much more likely that gluten snuck into something you ate than through the wine. The wheat paste used to seal wine barrels hardens into a concrete like substance, and remains in place, where it is needed, thus ensuring a seal. If it were to disolve, the barel would leak, and coopers would be looking for something else to use.



Reply by bakingbarb, Mar 18, 2010.

I never eat anything without assurance its gluten free. Other Celiacs love to tell evryone that Mcdonalds french fries are safe to eat. They aren't and I react to them. 

 I appreciate the info re the barrels but there is no way I am going to take that chance. 

Getting sick isn't fun so there is no way I am just going to willy nilly drink every wine out there in the hopes I don't react to it. 
I do the cooking at my home and there is no gluten sneaking into my food at home.  Now if I were out I would consider it to be cross contamination and that is valid such as the party I was at even if I am careful what I eat.

Regardless I like to be sure.  

Reply by zufrieden, Mar 18, 2010.

The somewhat more scientific way of answering this question is to take a wine you strongly suspect of causing you the discomfort and drink it again without food some hours after your last meal.  You may have a greater alcohol effect (beware) but you may then be better able to gauge the reaction (if any).  Then, if there is a reaction, you can perhaps take the investigation further by having the wine analyzed for contents.

This is a bit convoluted and may cost a few bob but could solve the mystery.  I find the gluten connection tenuous - at least where wine is concerned.  There's obviously a problem - but I would not give up on the idea that wine is innocent until proven guilty.


Reply by fibo86, Mar 19, 2010.

is it both red and white?

Have you considered the other allergies found in wines?

Any family history of allergies? If so to what?

Have you thought about getting the blot test for all allergens? (or does it cost money for those things?)

Do you need an epi pen with your allergies?

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