Following a gluten-free diet, either because of an intolerance or as a lifestyle choice, forces you to evaluate what you eat and drink. While you might be busy looking for gluten-free alternatives to baked goods, don't overlook the drinks you commonly include in your diet. Although most forms of alcohol are safe on a gluten-free diet, some exceptions apply.
Wine Is Fine
If you're a regular consumer of red or white wine, following a gluten-free diet won't affect your ability to enjoy this type of drink. Wine is typically made from grapes, which aren't glutenous. Several types of fortified wine, including vermouth, sherry and port, are also free of gluten. Wine coolers are also safe, provided they aren't labeled malt-based.
The majority of distilled spirits are acceptable to drink when you're on a gluten-free diet. Beverages such as vodka, rum, gin and whiskey are made from a number of products, but these don't contain gluten. Check the ingredients on your choice of mixer to ensure it doesn't contain gluten. For example, some premixed Caesar and Bloody Mary mixers can contain malt or hydrolyzed wheat protein, which aren't safe on a gluten-free diet.
Steer Away From Beer
If you're a beer drinker, this type of alcohol requires the biggest adjustment when you convert to a gluten-free diet. "Gluten-Free Living" magazine warns that because beer is made with barley, which is a glutenous grain, regular beer isn't safe to drink. It's possible to continue drinking beer while following a gluten-free diet, but you must make adjustments. Many companies produce gluten-free beer made with ingredients such as buckwheat and millet, which don't contain gluten.
Other Types of Alcohol
Before enjoying another type of alcohol, check on the label or contact the manufacturer to ensure it's safe to drink on a gluten-free diet. Alcoholic ciders, for example, are made from apples, but some types include barley during production, making them unsafe to drink. Liqueurs are free of gluten and safe to drink.
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Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.