Wine coolers, summery and fruity mixed drinks, are generally gluten free because they are based on fruits rather than malts. Unfortunately, some brands label their drinks as “coolers” despite working from a malt base, so you need to pay attention to the ingredients listed by the company.
Here’s what you need to know about wine coolers and the best wine cooler brands to buy from if you’re trying to go gluten free.
What Are Wine Coolers?
Wine coolers are, according to popular definition, a drink made from wine, fruit juice, sugar, and carbonated water. They’ve been used as a way of sprucing up cheaper wines since their heyday in the 1980s.
Wine coolers can range from simple boxed wines and fruit juices to Champagne with bitters and lemon, which is served at New York’s Air’s Champagne Parlor. These drinks have become a commonplace refresher in both fancy restaurants and humble home gatherings around the world, though they’re losing steam in many modern wine aficionados’ minds.
However, others say that in the wake of a rising demand for more relaxed, fruitier alcoholic drinks, wine coolers are taking back their place in the market. This is proving true with the prevalence of “mixed wine drinks” available from popular retailers.
Are Wine Coolers Beer?
Wine coolers and beers often have very similar alcohol levels, which can lead to a bit of confusion—are wine coolers considered beers? Thankfully, the answer is relatively simple.
Wine coolers aren’t considered a beer because they aren’t built on a malted base, but rather a fermented fruit—or wine—base. Wine coolers are typically considered a sort of cocktail due to their mixed composition.
The closest thing to a beer would be a malternative. “Malternatives,” or alternatives to traditional beers built on malt bases—think hard ciders and teas—look similar to wine coolers but are considered in their own category.
Are Seagram's Wine Coolers Gluten Free?
Seagram’s Escapes are light, fruity coolers that come in a variety of flavors including watermelon and citrus (titled “Jamaican Me Happy”) and peach Bellini. The coolers are available nation-wide in the United States and accompany their line of malt-based drinks.
According to their website, Seagram’s Escapes are crafted in such a way that most of the gluten produced is removed, but they still recommend those with sensitivities to the substance talk to their doctor about the possibility of trace gluten exposure.
Are Smirnoff Wine Coolers Gluten Free?
Smirnoff Ice coolers come in a wide variety of flavors from their original (featuring lemon notes) to pineapple, pink lemonade, strawberry, and seasonal favorites like Red, White, and Blue and Hurricane Punch.
Despite their advertisement as “coolers,” Smirnoff Ice drinks are not true wine coolers; they are built on a malt base. Because of this, they are not gluten free, and have roughly the same levels of gluten as a traditional beer or other malt beverage.
What Wine Coolers Are Gluten Free?
Here are some wine coolers you can enjoy that are totally gluten free.
Arbor Mist Frozen Wine Cocktails
Arbor Mist is a popular national wine brand available at retailers across the United States. Known for being a relatively inexpensive wine, Arbor Mist sells wines, both red and white, in a wide variety of fruity flavors.
In 2012, they launched their Frozen Wine Cocktails, a premixed cooler that they defined as innovative and ready-to-drink. They come in three varieties: White Zinfandel Strawberry, Merlot Blackberry, and Pino Grigio White Pear.
Boone’s Farm Wine Coolers
Boone’s Farm is another relatively inexpensive wine brand, referred to on the internet with nostalgia and fondness despite being considered a “bottom shelf” brand from the 1980s. They offer a range of flavored wines from Blue Hawaiian to Strawberry Daiquiri.
Their line of wine coolers was one of the first to hit the market, and still exists in it today. It may have fallen out of popular favor, but the brand does have a dedicated online fan base who can help you locate them should you want to try them yourself. And, of course, they are completely gluten free.
Bartles & Jaymes Wine Coolers
Bartles & Jaymes was founded in 1984 on the idea of wine coolers, which the founders consider to be vastly superior to others on the market.
Their coolers are sold in classically designed cans, and come in four flavors: Ginger and Lemon, Cucumber and Lime, Grapefruit and Green Tea, and Watermelon and Mint. They’re available nationally from a variety of retailers.