Friday, April 03, 2009


Hello Michel,
Thank you so much for taking the time to explain the use of flour paste on wine barrels today. It will be so wonderful to be able to use wine in cooking for my children and not have to worry about traces of gluten contamination. Here are a few links for the information that folks who have celiac disease are so worried about:

Instead of wheat flour paste on the barrels, maybe arrowroot starch could be used to make a paste instead. Very very few people are allergic to arrowroot but about 1% of the population has celiac disease.

Leigh Ann
Hi Leigh Ann,

Thanks for the links, I did learn something today! As you can read on these links this use of a wheat flour paste concerns the MAKING of barrels, something that winemakers are not involved in directly. This is why myself and others consulted had never heard of it before. It is used exclusively and once only to seal tight the bottoms, the 2 round pieces of wood at the extremities of the barrel. Realize that first the amount used is minute given the space to fill, probably a few grams per barrel, second that most of any potential residue is washed away by successive water fillings and that what's is left is hardly in contact with the wine. Finally whatever amount is still present is diluted in 40 gallons of wine and this several times over the course of the barrel lifetime. Therefore while it is still conceivable that trace amounts could be found in the final product I wonder which unit you would have to use to describe it, milligrams per liter for sure and possibly parts per million! I honestly do not know at which level of sensitivity goes celiac disease. Can it be that sensitive? Some toxins are felt at highly diluted levels but I have no idea if gluten could be that dangerous for certain people. I am seriously doubting it but since I lack the appropriate information I can only guess. And I suppose that affected people are the only ones capable to answer that question.
As far as suggesting a different component to the barrel makers that would take an effort from a celiac disease association to contact the dozens of companies making barrels and offer a valid substitute that would have to be tested first for efficiency and neutrality of taste.

Regarding your own personal quest you will be safe staying with white and rosé wines which are only exceptionally put in oak barrels. As for red wines the vast majority of today's wines are made for fast consumption therefore all the young fruity type wines of the most recent vintages would be ok. Oak aging concerns only a few percent of the total production and is reserved for wines of a high enough quality to deserve being kept for a few years or decades. I would guess that anything under $12 should be fine and this characteristic can be easily checked with the vendor.

All the best
Dr Mic

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