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What Alcohol Can I Drink?

Our Guide

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When you’re out for drinks with friends or trying to decide which alcohol to buy for a dinner party, it can be tricky to know what is, or isn’t, gluten free. Unlike food, alcoholic drinks don’t need to be labelled with warnings of gluten – and that can cause confusion.

While many alcoholic beverages are naturally gluten free there are some common things to avoid. Unless marked as gluten free, beer should always be assumed to contain gluten. In contrast wine and cider are naturally gluten free, however spirits can be harder to know for sure but are nearly always gluten free. Take our handy gluten free alcohol guide below along with you to restaurants and liquor stores if you’re unsure!

Gluten Free Alcohol Options

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Wine, sherry, port, and ciders
These are all made from fruit and don’t contain gluten.
Gin, Brandy, Rum, Tequila, Vodka, Bourbon and Whisky
Gin, and other spirits that are made from gluten free ingredients can be safely consumed in moderation by people with coeliac disease. This means anything from bourbon to tequila, sparkling wines, spirits, port, sherry and even cider is safe as part of a gluten free diet. This is due to the distillation process which removes gluten from the spirits, even those that are derived from gluten containing sources. Most research concludes that any gluten is removed during the extensive distillation process, but some people may still react. To be safe, choose vodka made from potatoes, corn, or grapes and avoid ‘single distilled’ spirits or those made from wheat, barley, or rye. Listing ingredients on alcoholic products is however not mandatory, so additional care is necessary.
Liqueurs
Usually are gluten free, but could occasionally have something added that contaminates them, so check the label if in doubt.

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Gluten and Beer

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Drinking Gluten Free

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Regular beers are produced by fermenting malt barley or occasionally wheat malt. Whilst the amount of protein present is significantly reduced by fermentation, the gluten proteins are not removed from the end product and are essential for beer quality and presentation. This is in contrast to the distillation process to make spirits.

Choose gluten free beers brewed without gluten-containing grains, as not all test methods used to ascertain whether a beer is gluten free are reliable. If beer claims to have gluten ‘removed’, we suggest investigating further and potentially avoiding it.

For people with coeliac disease, following a strictly gluten-free diet is vital for maintaining your health. Although some people with coeliac disease drink beer in moderation with no immediate ill effects, there is no way to know for sure whether that is causing damage to the lining of the small intestine. We recommend that each individual discusses this issue with their qualified health professional before making the decision to drink beer – or, even better, stick to gluten free alcohol entirely.

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About Coeliac New Zealand

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Your partner in
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Coeliac New Zealand is available throughout your journey. As part of our community, you’ll get support, advice, and assistance. We work with health professionals, manufacturers, and researchers to raise awareness of coeliac disease in NZ.

Together, we can reach a day when every person with coeliac disease gets diagnosed quickly, lives a healthy life, and has the prospect of a cure.

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