It’s official. Wine and Weed is definitely a thing. But, what kind of thing? There’s a good deal with which to educate ourselves.
Let’s get started with a few factoids:
- Cannabis infused wine is only available for purchase in California – and there may be a queue.
- You will have to have a bit of a bank as prices range from $60 – $400 per bottle.
- In California, you do not need a Medical Marijuana card to purchase, just a valid government ID that shows you’re over 21.
- Cannabis infused wine has no alcohol – that’s still illegal in the USA.
- Cannabis infused wines can contain THC, which will give you a high or CBD, for an all over good feeling, but not the high.
- No hangovers because of no alcohol.
- Aromas in the Cannabis infused wines come from terpenes. The same aroma component found in grapes.
- White and rosé wines seem to have the edge on aroma and taste.
- It’s not new. The combining of weed tincture and wine goes back to the 2nd Century when a Chinese surgeon combined weed and wine as an anesthetic and concoctions were used in early Christian and Greek ceremonies.
- It might be green.
Modern-day weed wine, also known as green wine (and for legal reasons described as a “tincture”) has been around the winemaking world for a long time. In California its inception is generally thought to go to the late 1970s at Chalone Vineyard, a way inland wine region close to Pinnacles National Monument – hidden away from civilization (at that time). The growers and winemakers had the relative privacy to create and perfect the blending.
So, how’s it made?
High-end winemakers take about a pound of cured marijuana (they select different strains for aromas), wrap it up in cheesecloth and add it a barrel containing grape juice from any number of grapes such as Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache, Viognier. The “package” ferments with the wine for 12 or more months – and when temps only hit a maximum of 90 degrees F, only CBD is released from the marijuana. The THC won’t come forth until at least 220 degrees F. Bottom line: the wines done in this manner won’t make you feel high (they contain no THC) but create muscle relaxation and general tranquility.
And, so we find ourselves on the cutting edge of ancient technology in the Cannabis Wine World. The epicenter of production is located in Sonoma County and is attracting winemakers and growers in large numbers, eager to legally create new artisanal degustation experiences. Joining them are Chefs who are pairing the flavors of Cannabis with foods in restaurant special menus and pop-up dinners. We’re not talking about the brownies from our college days, but sophisticated pairings and blendings of herbs, grains and proteins.
Is Cannabis wine safe?
On a recent episode featuring Rebel Coast wines, Dr. Junella Chin, an integrative medical cannabis physician explained on the Today show that ingesting cannabis is generally safe, but if you’re new to the experience start off “extremely slow and low”. In the case of THC infused wine, take a small sip initially and then wait an hour. Just like with alcohol, you need to learn your tolerance and reaction.
Mixing any alcohol with Cannabis infused wines will increase the reaction of the THC.
What are some wines that are available?
One that has a great story is Canna Vine. This is a high-end beverage combining biodynamic viticulture and marijuana grown organically done with the same precise growing and winemaking care as any cult wine. Counted among their followers are Melissa Etheridge and Chelsea Handler.
Ms. Etheridge has her own brand of wines called “Know Label”. As with the wine world, other celebrities are also high on getting into creating their own Cannabis wines.
Like a crisp Sauvignon Blanc? Rebel Coast sports a Sauvignon Blanc-Cannabis infused wine with THC. Go online and get onto the waiting list. Each bottle of this alcohol-free Sauvignon Blanc has about 16 mg of THC. This can be defined as a THC mild effect. Compare to legal state law which allows up to 10 mg of THC in a single edible serving.
Wine and Cannabis look to make good partners. Will the sale of Cannabis-infused wines cause regular wine sales to take a hit? Maybe, but not as much as it will affect beer. Winemakers are targeting boomers and millennials and want to be in the trend (and profits). Many are already in the mix to create a new way for consumers to have a toke. For now, the wines are $$$, yet as wine consumers, we will ultimately benefit from more choice in how grapes are made into an enjoyable beverage.
Final thought: Both THC and CBD show promise as a healthful addition to our lives, much like or maybe more in the vein of having a glass of wine a day has health benefits. However, this industry is still in its infancy and the laws are somewhat murky. The book is still being written. While we can, and if you’re adventurous and curious, get in line to experience the new, new. Oh, and no drinking and driving.
A Votre Santé!
Courtesy: The Kitchn, Paste Magazine, Canna Vine, AARP.com,