Sake – A Celiac’s Alternative


I’m not a huge drinker, but when I indulge, I like to “git ‘er done”.

I prefer whisky (or whiskey, if you will) but will also go for vodka for tequila. Occasionally, I’ll opt for some sake.

While sake is not normally my preference, I do happen to know quite a bit about it. Call it a hazard of moonlighting as a bartender at a sushi restaurant.

Now, we can argue the particulars of spirits and how the distillation process physically separates the alcohol from the gluten, but the fact remains that many of those a with gluten sensitivity prefer to avoid anything made from wheat, rye, or barley.

Enter sake.

One interesting aspect of sake is that most of the ones that are widely available in the United States can inherently be labeled gluten free.

This is due to how sake is defined.

Unless you’re looking for a history lesson, believe me when I say that a sake with the designation of ‘junmai’ can only contain rice, water, yeast, and koji (the mold that is used to break the rice down into fermentable sugars — think of the malting process in beer brewing).

Unless I’m mistaken, none of the ingredients in a junmai sake are harmful to those with Celiac Disease or a sensitivity to gluten.

So, feel free to drink up!

Of course there are always other options, like wine or gluten free beer (bleh), but consider asking your bartender or server for a junmai sake if you’re feeling adventurous — hot or cold, it’s up to you!


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