Having a glass or two of wine, brandy, or a cocktail is perfectly acceptable in the grain-free lifestyle, but you will have to be selective.

The price of a poor choice can be reigniting an autoimmune condition, provoking high blood sugar, triggering an inappropriate emotional outburst that ruins your evening, or regaining those undesired pounds. The reward for choosing wisely can be a wonderful time spent with friends without such problems. Also, do recognize that any amount of wine, cocktails, or beer can stall weight loss.

Navigating alcoholic beverages can be hazardous, as many are brewed from grains. But wine stands out as the safest choice in alcoholic beverages by a wide margin.

Wine is as close to a perfect wheat- , grain-, and gluten-free beverage as it gets, regardless of varietal or vintage. If you consider the probable health effects that can be derived from light wine drinking (no more than two 4-ounce glasses per day), wine is proving to be both pleasurable and healthy.

The vast majority of wines are made without exposure to anything wheat, grain, or gluten. There is one rare exception: Because of a push to get away from animal-derived clarifying agents, such as gelatin derived from cows (due to bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease), winemakers have sought non-animal sources of clarifying agents. Clarifying agents are used to make wines clearer and more appealing to the consumer. Clarification removes residual grape skin, seeds, or stem debris; dead yeast cells; and various proteins. Among the most popular clarifying agent choices are bentonite, potassium sorbate, and sodium benzoate. However, some winemakers have lately turned to gluten or deamidated gluten for wine clarification. Thankfully, this remains an uncommon practice. I believe it will become less common as more and more of us raise a stink about grain/gluten exposure in ANY food.

The available scientific data on gluten content in wines in which gluten has been used for clarification suggest that virtually none makes its way to the finished product you pour. There are three studies I’m aware of that have examined whether gluten used in the clarification process make their way to the wine itself. Here is one such study.

Obviously, if you consume a rare rogue wine that provokes a gluten response, don’t drink it again, then be sure to tell the winemaker about it. Also, be sure tell us about it on the Wheat Belly Blog, Undoctored Blog or the Official Wheat Belly Facebook page.

The overwhelming majority of wines are wheat-, grain-, and gluten-free safe choices for alcoholic beverages. Whether you choose a chardonnay, pinot grigio, viognier, vinho verde, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, garnacha, malbec, rioja . . . or any of the other wines produced from other varietals and blends you can do so knowing you are safe. More so than any other class of alcoholic beverage, wines are therefore our first choice. So enjoy your holiday toast with family and friends with a glass of wine!