Guest written by TSO Sonoma
The more we learn about the science behind cannabis the more sophisticated it becomes. If you have recently become interested in cannabis, it can be overwhelming trying to learn all the strains and different cannabinoids. We recommend relating cannabis to something you might be familiar with – wine.
Approach a cannabis tasting just like you would a wine tasting. Here are my three steps for tasting:
- See —Observe what you see.
- Smell — Aromas, what do you smell?
- Taste —What flavors can you pick out?
There are a lot of similarities between cannabis and wine. Both grow in similar climates, so where good wine is grown you can usually find good cannabis. The culmination of all environmental factors such as the soil, sun, fog, wind, elevation, etc. create a term called terroir. Just like a Russian River Valley Pinot Noir has a distinctive unique flavor, so does a Humboldt Kush. Terroir is expressed through organic compounds called terpenes.
Terpenes are found in many herbs, fruits, vegetables and even insects and are the strong smelling oils that give cannabis a variety of aromas and flavors. There are over 200 terpenes that have now been identified. Each terpene gives off a unique aroma profile and studies now show, it is actually the variance in terpenes that give different cannabis strains certain effects. Learning more about terpenes will help guide you for pairing different cannabis strains with wine and food.
Cannabis and wine can also have similar aromas. Some common tasting descriptors for Pinot Noir are earthy, mushroom, forest floor, which are all also common aromas for the terpene Myrcene. Myrcene is known for having benefits to help aid sleep and relax muscle tension. When looking for a perfect pairing for Pinot Noir, I usually look for a strain high in Myrcene with earthy fruity characteristics.
When pairing wine and cannabis, we try and match similar aroma profiles, but also take into account weight. For wine, weight is measured by the body of the wine. For cannabis, weight is determined by the effect. For example, when pairing cannabis to a light bright rosé, you want to match the wine with an uplifting and energizing sativa dominant strain high levels of uplifting terpenes like Limonene. In contrast, you might end the day with a heavier indica dominant strain with a relaxing dominant terpene.
If you are planning to host a dinner party and incorporating wine and cannabis, use the three tasting steps listed above to pick out a harmonizing blend to get your senses activated for an exciting evening ahead.
- SEE – First look at the wine you want to serve. Is it light bodied and bright, or a heavier darker red?
- SMELL– Can you pick out any distinctive aromas in the wine. Does it have citrus characterstics or more earthy? A citrusy wine like Sauvignon Blanc will pair beautifully with a strain high in the terpene Limonene, like the strain Candyland.
- TASTE– Does the wine have a fruity flavor profile? Is it dark red fruit? Some wine like Zinfandel, is known for having a ripe spicy berry characteristic that pairs well with strains high in Charophyllene. Charophyllene is a terpene known for having spicy, peppery characteristics that match the fruity spicy noted of a Zinfandel.
Sensory evaluation of wine or cannabis is all objective so trust your intuition for what works well for you. Trust your nose, and most importantly enjoy exploring different combinations!