By Kori ~ September 26th, 2012.
“What is gluten, and why do I keep seeing Gluten Free options on restaurant menus and grocery store shelves?” These are just some of the questions you may be asking if you are not among the growing number of people who have been diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
Gluten is the generic name for certain types of proteins contained in wheat, barley, rye, and their derivatives. Gluten intolerance is the result of an immune-mediated response to the ingestion of gluten (from wheat, rye, and barley) that damages the small intestine. Nutrients are then quickly passed through the small intestine, rather than being absorbed. Celiac disease is a chronic, inherited disease, and, if untreated, can ultimately lead to malnutrition. Celiac disease is considered to be the most under-diagnosed common disease today, potentially affecting 1 in every 133 people in the United States.
Strict adherence to a Gluten Free diet for life is the only treatment currently available for celiac disease and gluten intolerance. This involves the elimination of wheat, rye, barley, and derivatives of these grains from the diet. With awareness increasing as more and more people are diagnosed, many restaurants are now offering Gluten Free menus and more Gluten Free products are being produced.
If you are still reading, you may be thinking, “Interesting information, Kori, but why are you writing about this on a wine blog?” Well, the short answer is that I’m someone who has had to recently go on a Gluten Free diet. In fact, three of the four Wine Peeps (John, Colby, and I) must now eat Gluten Free. And believe me, it’s because we have to for our health, not because we’ve decided to try some new fad diet (though there certainly are Gluten Free faddists out there). It can definitely be challenging following a Gluten Free diet, especially when dining out. But I am happy to report that we all feel much better eating this way, so it is worth it.
And, now this brings me to the title of this post: Thank Goodness Wine is Gluten Free. We might not have such a good attitude about this diet if our beloved beverage of choice was now off-limits. Fortunately, all wine is Gluten Free!
As far as alcoholic beverages go, wine and hard liquor are Gluten Free. Distilled products do not contain any harmful gluten peptides. Research indicates that the gluten peptide is too large to carry over in the distillation process, which leaves the resultant liquid Gluten Free. Beers, ales, and lagers that are made from gluten-containing grains are not distilled, and, therefore, are not Gluten Free. However, there are Gluten Free beers available. Many leave much to be desired, but I would be remiss without giving a shout-out to Widmer for their excellent Omission Pale Ale (the first and possibly last beer review you’ll see on this site).
Filed under: Food & Wine, General Wine Information, Miscellaneous