Cannabis and wine share a universe of flavours. The complexity of their smells and tastes, and the vast varietal diversity of both are something unique in nature. Intersecting the two big cannabis and wine flavours’ wheels, trying to pair each other in a new tasting experience, is someone’s hobby, that might become an industry.

In old Europe, sipping wine or beer together with a joint is not such a rare habit for experienced users. In USA, the mainstream culture and the law itself actually “tolerate” marijuana more than alcohol. As a consequence, you better not get caught in the street with a beer in your hand or in a car with any unsealed container of alcoholic beverage, if you care about your police record. It doesn’t matter if you are drunk or not, you can’t read a book and sip a beer alone on a sunny day in Central Park. Yet the weed-and-wine (indoor) pairing is possibly another trend, that has emerged with cannabis legalization in USA.

Sipping a fresh white wine during a cannabis smoking session is for sure a pleasure for our palate and soul, yet trying to pair wine with cannabis smoke just like it was food looks a bit pretentious. Perfectly aware of risks and opportunities, the responsibly blooming American cannabusiness industry is starting to ferment grapes and buds together, developing new boozes, specialised clubs, professionals and partnerships. Now let’s go back to the lab.

WINE CANNABIS LEGALIZATION TERPENES ENZYMESTHE CHEMICALS BETWEEN US

Wine flavours come from an almost magical combination of sugars, yeasts, esters, terpenes, pyrazines, thiols, lactones, and many other funny-named substances, Botrytis cinerea included. Ever heard about that mold? Maybe you don’t want it on your plants, but you appreciate the honey, fruity flavour it gives to Sauternes or Tokaji grapes.

In wine, esters compounds provide the building blocks of fruity flavours, giving the typical apple scent to Chardonnay. Pyrazines transfer their herbaceous smell to Sauvignon Blanc. Thiols give a bittersweet fruity taste with berries notes to Bordeaux, Cabernet, Merlot. A young red wine can taste metallic, while sulphur compounds give a fine mineral taste to Chablis. The right amount of bacteria in both fermenting and aging stages gives value to very fine wines, such as Amarone, because they almost mysteriously add a beautiful balsamic complexity to its taste and smell.

The chemical class of substances named “terpenes” is what cannabis and wine share most when it comes to taste. Terpenes give a variety of sweet, floral, resinous, herbaceous scents to beer and wine. The floral notch in good Moscato or Champagne, in Sauvignon Blanc, or Gewurztraminer, and many other delicate smells like orange, lemon and roses actually come from terpenes. Different terpenes can fill our senses with more intense smells, like pine, nuts, cheese, or fuel. Terpenes are present in very small concentrations in botanical raw material, yet they play an important role in developing the properties of wine, cannabis, and vegetables in general. Over 50 terpenes have been identified in wine, and more than 100 in cannabis.

OVERLAPPING THE FLAVOUR WHEELS

Since taste and smell are not just about terpenes, the bigger molecular complexity of natural wine compounds compared to cannabis flowers is the chemical reason for the larger amount of perceivable aromas in wine. Furthermore, our tongue can taste wine very well, while smoke is mainly “tasted” by our palate and respiratory system. Finally, during the combustion or vaporization, many terpenes dissolve before reaching our receptors. Despite this, the nature of cannabis itself, together with breeders’ ability to consistently improve their cannabis strains' heritage, and with the infinite possible combination of genetic traits and environmental conditions can give us buds with delicious taste and very interesting complex flavours. Just like wine.

Both wine and cannabis flavours can be roughly classified in fruity, floral, herbal, spicy, and earthy aromas. These primary groups can be subdivided at sommelier’s desire, yet the final individual perception depends on too many factors, including each one’s personal memories, and what kind of scents to search for while puffing, smelling or tasting. But, here comes the point, a lot of fine wines’ flavours come to our senses best when eating certain food, the ones which “pair” well. At the same time, a good food becomes delicious when coupled with the right wine.

PAIRING OR REFRESHING?

In USA, and probably somewhere else too, sommeliers and budtenders are trying to match or contrast the flavours of different cannabis varieties with fine wines. We can believe them when they suggest us some of the best sparkling wines, like Champagne or Prosecco, in order to refresh our smoker’s dry mouth and throat with some carbonated bubbles. The refreshing thing obviously plays a big part in this cannabis-wine game, and the only issue might be stopping the rinse procedure after just a few sips, or facing the entourage effect between THC and alcohol.

For the same reason, light red such as Pinot noir, Merlot, Cabernet are preferred by (cannabis) smokers because they prefer rounder and flavoured wine, with low tannins. That’s to avoid an eventual dryness feeling. Well, maybe. Is there some pothead around refusing a tannic structured Barolo, Bordeaux, or Rioja while smoking, just because these precious wines might dry up their mouth a bit?

There’s more. According to the sommeliers, a citrus flavour such as the one from some of the Lemon varieties of cannabis strains could be matched with a dry white such as Sauvignon, Pinot, Chardonnay. Yet, it looks like young American stoners care more for sweet whites like Riesling, Gewurtztraminer, Moscato. How weird, right?

If it’s true that cannabis strains with sour and fruity scents do pair well with sparkling wines like Champagne or Prosecco, it’s also true that any smoker of low-priced tobacco cigarette would swear his shit pairs well with cold sparkling wine, especially on a warm sunny day in Central Park, if allowed. Seriously, those fine wines’ crispness, bubbleness and acidness make them really refreshing when smoking.

Other strains would match with more mineral and dry wines, of course. Up to the experienced reader telling if a NYC Diesel pairs well with the minerality of the Chablis, or must be contrasted with a fruity Riesling. By the way, speaking about terpenes, how about a joint after a good Espresso coffee? Terpenes’ synergy taste beautiful here too, and you’re free to decide if you feel anxious or relaxed!

On your next trip to Denver or LA, don’t commit the crime to offer your hosts a dry white wine while smoking a Cheese! That would probably offend people’s taste, and you would be pitied and marginalized. Only pair dry wines with citrusy strains, and avoid any Cheese. Or, just serve young acidic red wine, which's taste might be either neutralized by smoking a Cheese, or boosted with a Lemon Shining Silver Haze. That would solve any pairing problem, thank God!

Tannic astringent taste of structured red wines should also be soothed with Cheese strains, or maybe enhanced with some Skunk sweetness. Sweet wine pairs well both with hearty, piny strains, or the citric ones. As you could guess, full-bodied wines ask for full-bodied strains, probably strong woody, fruity indicas. Cheers.

COFFE WEED CANNABIS ROYAL QUEEN SEEDS

ORIGINAL CALIFORNIAN CANNABIS-INFUSED WINE

A bunch of producers in California used to include cannabis infusions in their grapes’ fermentation process since forever. What started for private consumption, or for sharing with friends, is now trying to go public, yet hopping on the legalisation business bandwagon with cannabis wine is not easy even in the USA, since today this fine product is only available in California. Other States that have fully legalized marijuana like Colorado, Washington, Oregon have not allowed cannabis-infused alcoholic beverages.

In the Californian recipe, making weed wine is about adding dried buds to fermenting must and let wine and cannabis ferment together, aging for a few months. This wine is named, guess, Canna Vine. Half a bottle has the unbelievable price range between $120 and 400. Someone says it is inevitable, that certain strains and cannabis brands will gain notoriety in the same way that grapes and winemakers have done over the years. Buy the Cannawine bottle at $400 and sell it aged in a few years at $1,000? Not likely.

The extraordinary variety of cannabis strains with its hundreds of new crossings is going to open a new tasting culture, with professional cannabis connoisseurs and a blooming normalized industry, just like wine and booze sectors. Half of the entertainment world spins around wine and food, and now someone in the country ranking 4th in the world for wine production is adding a new player to the game.

 

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