This Italian sparkling wine is bubbly, crisp, and often more affordable than Champagne. But is Prosecco gluten free?
I love crisp, effervescent Prosecco on its own and mixed into a cocktail like a mimosa. It’s a delicious and refreshing way to celebrate special occasions or simply a brunch with friends.
But if you or your friends are on a gluten-free diet, can you still put this bubbly beverage on the menu? The good news is yes!
Like other types of wine, Prosecco is naturally gluten free. That’s because the ingredients used to make it, primarily grapes, do not contain gluten.
That said, there are a few ways that gluten could still make its way into Prosecco. Below, I’ll take a closer look at what Prosecco is. Plus, I’ll go over what risks you need to be aware of with Prosecco if you’re gluten intolerant.
What is Prosecco?
Prosecco has its roots in the Friuli-Venezia-Giulia and Veneto wine regions of northeastern Italy. To be classified as Prosecco, the wine must contain at least 85% Glera grapes. That’s a white wine grape which is native to neighboring Slovenia, but was brought to Italy several hundred years ago.
In general, Prosecco is produced as either sparkling or semi-sparkling — spumante and frizzante, respectively. Styles include Demi-Sec, Dry, Extra Dry and Brut. The dryest is Brut, as it contains the least amount of residual sugar content.
Light, bubbly, and crisp, Prosecco’s flavor profile usually includes notes of peach, pear, melon, and honeysuckle.
How is Prosecco made?
Prosecco is carbonated like Champagne, but the bubbles are typically larger and lighter due to the method used to create them. Prosecco producers generally use the Charmat method or Tank method of fermentation and aging.
During this process, a second fermentation occurs in large tanks rather than in the bottle, as is the traditional method used for Champagne.
The tank method helps create Prosecco’s bright crispness. And it’s also less labor-intensive, which is one reason why Prosecco can be more affordable than some other types of sparkling white wine.
And Prosecco doesn’t have as much alcohol as many still wines. Alcohol content for Prosecco typically ranges from around 9%-12.5% ABV.
Does Prosecco contain gluten?
In almost all cases, Prosecco does not contain gluten. As with other wines, the main ingredient in Prosecco is grapes. And they’re gluten free. So it’s generally safe to consume for those with Celiac disease, gluten allergies, or other gluten sensitivities.
But, while generally considered small, there are some potential gluten risks with drinking Prosecco.
Gluten risks: fining
One such risk can occur during the Prosecco production process. During a step called “fining”, in which the wine is clarified, some gluten-containing substances may be added. And in some cases, they can remain behind in the bottle.
However, the amounts are very small, below 20 parts per million (ppm). That’s the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) limit that can’t be exceeded in order for a product to be labeled gluten-free. And such gluten-based fining agents are rarely used anymore in modern winemaking.
Gluten risks: aging
Another potential concern has been raised about gluten entering the wine during the aging process. Many wines, including some higher-quality types of Prosecco, are aged in oak barrels prior to bottling.
The risk for those with gluten intolerances can arise if the heads of the barrels have been sealed with wheat paste. But that risk is very small as the barrels are washed and cleaned before any wine is put into them.
In fact, analysis shows the amount of gluten that could make its way into the final product from these barrels is far below the FDA limit.
And in recent years, many winemakers have replaced wheat-based paste with gluten-free wax-based substitutes, as it’s cleaner and easier to use.
Gluten risks: Prosecco in cocktails
Most natural mixers suitable for Prosecco, such as fruit juices in Mimosas, are gluten free. The same goes for other alcoholic beverages like distilled spirits that can also be used with Prosecco. That’s because gluten is removed during the distillation process. So many Prosecco cocktails should be ok for those with a gluten intolerance.
But some pre-made mixers and wine coolers can contain gluten products. So if you’re combining prepared margarita mix, for example, with Prosecco, be sure to check the product label for any gluten-containing ingredients.
So, is Prosecco safe to consume if you’re gluten free?
Even with the risk of trace amounts of gluten making their way into the finished wine after production, research shows that the levels are so small that Prosecco on its own is considered safe to drink for those on gluten-free diets.
The greater concern can come with Prosecco that’s used in combination with premade drink mixers which may include gluten ingredients.
The ingredients used to make Prosecco are vegan. But most prosecco undergoes a process called fining during wine production. This removes unwanted particles and clarifies the wine. The issue is that some fining agents are animal-based, such as egg whites or gelatin. That could cause concern for vegans.
However, some types of clay and charcoal are used as a fining agent, and they are vegan-friendly. Checking with a specific Prosecco producer or their website may indicate whether their wine is vegan or not.
No, Prosecco must be made with at least 85% Glera grapes. Champagne, which must be made in the Champagne region of France, uses Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grapes. Prosecco and Champagne are also produced using different methods.
More answers about gluten
Find out whether more of your favorite beverages contain gluten. Tap the posts below.