The Beginner’s Guide to Pairing Cannabis and Wine

A cannabis and wine pairing uses the sensory enhancing properties of cannabis to cultivate an entirely new flavor experience with the wine. So forget swilling grape alcohol and and burning buds, forget the spins and forget Cheech and Chong. This is how to explore the pairing potential of two of the most genetically diverse plants on the planet, cannabis and grapes – as it opens up an entire new world of sensory possibilities.

Fern finding all the complementary flavors.

Fern finding all the complementary flavors.

Every tasting situation is unique. Drinking a Bordeaux with your first love might elicit a totally different flavor experience than drinking the exact same vintage the next day with a boring colleague. You wouldn’t want to smoke a pure Indica before a night of dancing just like you wouldn’t want to drink a whole bottle of ultra tannic Nebbiolo. Similar to a food and wine pairing, an upbeat situation demands a light varietal and a giggly strain whereas a slow situation demands a heavier varietal and headier strain.

Flavor pairing:

When pairing anything you are looking for one of two main effects.

  1. Compatibility: The paired items share a similar profile that is amplified when placed together. I.e. The grassy notes of a Sauvignon Blanc are amplified by a meal’s heavy use of fresh greens and herbs.
  2. Balance: The paired items each have a different component that when placed together create a whole. I.e. The sweetness of a Riesling balances the spiciness of an Asian dish loaded with chilis.

Extraction technique:

How one smokes the cannabis will affect what kind of wine to choose, or vice-versa. The bigger and harsher the cannabis extraction the more robust the wine needs to be. The more subtle and balanced the wine, the extraction technique can be lighter.

Compatibility pairings often work best with a light extraction technique such as a vaporizer. A hint of citrus in your Vino Verde can be accentuated by the strong citrus notes of Lemon Haze, but the presence of smoke would overpower the delicate nature of the wine.

On the other hand smoking a joint or pipe can be perfect for a balance pairing. The earthy forest notes of a Beaujolais pairs wonderfully with the berry and earthy notes of Blue Dream. The wine’s juicy nature interacts with the earthy smoke to create a unified whole that is more complex and balanced than the parts on their own.

If you insist on smoking a bong for your wine pairing, choose something sweet and young like an Argentinian Malbec. The munchies you’re about to be gripped by are going to force you into a sugar fiends frenzy. Also you might get dizzy.

Choosing the Strain:

Cannabis, just like wine, has an astounding genetic diversity. Varietals like the famous Pineapple Express or Sour Diesel are grown on mountain hillsides, in backyards and indoor grow rooms all over the world much like Merlot, Chardonnay, Cab, etc… are grown the world over. Due to this diversity, every cannabis flower has its own unique flavor profile just like every vintage.

Here are some examples of general wine flavor profiles paired with some of this year’s most popular strains.

Light Dry White: Light Herbaceous Sauvignon Blanc with vaporized Harlequin

Sweet White: Tropical Honey Riesling with joint of Pineapple Express

Rich White: Creamy Oaked Chardonnay with joint of Headband

Sparkling White: Light Citrus Cava with vaporized Grapefruit Kush

Rosé: Fruity Grenache Rosé with vaporized Strawberry Cough

Light Red: Soft Cranberry Pinot Noir with vaporized Cherry Pie

Medium Red: Fruity dry herbal Côtes du Rhône blend with joint of Girl Scout Cookies

Bold Red: Tannic Black Cherry Tempranillo with joint of Blackberry Kush

Dessert Wine: Rich Ruby Port with bong hit of Sour Diesel

Kim Crawford 2014 Sauvignon Blanc with a joint of March harvested Rogue Valley indoor grown Harlequin.

Kim Crawford 2014 Sauvignon Blanc with a joint of March harvested Rogue Valley indoor grown Harlequin.

So you’ve chosen you vintage and your strain. How do you analyze whether the two are compatible?

  1. Compare the aroma. Smell the flower, smell the wine, smell the flower, smell the wine. Do they compliment each other or do they clash?
  2. Take a small sip of the wine, aerate, swallow and contemplate the flavor. What notes jump out at you?
  3. Take a small puff of cannabis, while holding it in, take a small sip of the wine and then exhale. Open your nostrils… What flavor lingers? Are they clashing or do they create a unified whole? Is one overpowering the other, or does it fill the other with a complimentary notes?
  4. And then here is the most important step: Do you like it?
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