Elevated Pairings: Combining Wine & Cannabis

Since California legalized adult-use cannabis last year, wine lovers and visitors to wine country have been increasingly curious about how to incorporate cannabis into their wine and travel experience. While both our health in profound ways. When we combine the two, with intention and care, we can achieve a truly elevated sensory experience.

Wine quality is ultimately defi ned by the overall state of balance between the flavor and structural components. True cannabis quality is determined by similar attributes except, when it comes to this therapeutic plant, balance is defined by the product’s overall effect, or the way it makes us feel.

Exceptional cannabis should evoke feelings of greater joy, presence and wellbeing, and should comfortably heighten our senses so that we’re more open and receptive to the people and the world (or wine) around us.

When it comes to pairing wine and cannabis, we use many of the same principles used to pair wine and food – matching flavor and aromatics to elevate the expression of both. In the case of cannabis, we also take into account the way it makes us feel. In our experience sun-grown cannabis, that’s been allowed a full season to ripen and develop naturally (unlike light deprivation or indoor cultivation methods), will provide a greater balanced effect, and is generally a better option for pairing experiences.

Cannabis varieties have different terpenes (aromatic molecules) which not only define the plant’s smell and flavor, but also its effect. For example, the terpene linalool is the same compound found in lavender and pairs beautifully with wines like Sonoma Pinot Noir or Grenache. In addition to its smell, linalool also provides therapeutic benefit. Not only can it off er ease and relaxation, its also a powerful anti-inflammatory agent which can help reduce our body’s natural inflammation response to alcohol. And this is just the beginning. We pair a strain like Pineapple Tsu, which contains another terpene called limonene, with the citrus notes found in coastal Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay. With its decidedly uplifting and energizing effect, it’s the perfect pairing to kick off a tasting. Similar logic informs the idea of ending a tasting with a cultivar that contains myrcene which, in the right dose, can be deeply relaxing. Blueberry Muffin is both high in myrcene and boasts big berry scents which pair perfectly with a hefty Napa Valley Petite Sirah. With over 20 terpenes, and thousands of cultivars to choose from, the world of weed and wine pairings offers endless opportunities for sensory delights and deeper enjoyment.

A few important pro-tips …

  • We always suggest starting a tasting with CBD tincture or other high-CBD product. Not only does it help relax and ground your guests, it also protects the liver from the adverse effects of alcohol and can ensure guests don’t become over-imbibed. This is the same reason a CBD-infused product can be a great hangover cure.
  • THC will compound the intoxicating eff ects of alcohol so it’s important to take it slow when combining the two. The goal is elevation, not inebriation. Start with the cannabis product first, wait to see how you feel, and then taste the wine.
  • Edibles (food infused with cannabis) can take up to two hours to reach their full effect. For this reason, we generally leave them for the last course and keep the dose of THC to 5mg or less. We prefer pairings over infusions for this reason, and because we’re purists, we prefer to showcase the highest expression of a beautiful wine alongside a similarly exceptional cannabis product.
  • If at any point you begin to feel too high, the miraculous cannabis plant offers a remedy: a dose of 5-10mg of CBD can help to quickly counteract the psychoactive effects of THC and bring you back down.
  • If you’re interested in experiencing an elevated tasting of cannabis, or cannabis and wine, we suggest having an experienced guide. HerbaBuena is one of the few companies in Napa and Sonoma offering custom elevated tasting experiences, and has been doing so since 2015.

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