Pairing weed and alcohol is not for everyone. THC tends to make booze more potent, leaving you drunker, higher, and more likely to wear a lampshade on your head in front of your Nana. Mixing the two can also make it difficult to enjoy either experience: the sensations compete like Beta fish until you’re not sure whether you feel the liquor or the leaf.
Sure, this combination isn’t for everyone. But it’s certainly for some people!
Wine and weed are an especially appealing combo. For one thing, the recent legalization in California merges the two together more than ever before. Cali is, first and foremost, wine country: it produces the vast majority of US wine. We can expect to see more and more companies and ideas that bring both grape and ganja to the table.
So, if you’re into wine and into weed, what do you need to know about these combos?
The Potency of Wine
Step one is to know what you’re drinking. Some wine is much higher in alcohol content than most vintages. Fortified wine can have a higher content than other types. Some of the wines with the highest content (over 14 percent) include California Zin, Shiraz, sherry, port, and late harvest dessert wines.
These wines are sometimes sweet, which makes them appealing to people who don’t especially like wine. But that can also make them easy to drink by the bottle.
Wine with lower content includes Moscato and Riesling (for those who want the sweetness) and Pinot Grigio. Many red wines (like Pinot Noir) tend to have an alcohol content that puts them in the middle of the pack. Red wines also tend to be a bit higher in alcohol content than most whites (though it’s not a hard and fast rule; it depends on specific grape).
Whatever glass you drink, know that most wines are more potent than beer and will you get drunk much faster.
Another pitfall is that wine can produce worse hangovers than hops and barley. Many people find it more dehydrating than beer, which ups the odds that you’ll spend your morning with a headache.
Rely on Your Nose
The nose knows for a reason – when it comes to flavor, it may be more important than taste. In fact, the nose is the reason we get the munchies. Cannabis heightens our sense of smell, which makes us think we’re hungry even when we’re not.
In wine, aroma is especially important – those people smelling their glasses before taking a sip? They’re not just being pretentious; the aroma is an important part of the experience.
Marijuana isn’t always known for its aroma – many of us have a hard time differentiating between a strain that smells like skunk and a strain that smells like skunk. But different flowers do produce different scents.
Using the nose (whether to smell the pine in a glass of wine or the mango in a strain of bud) takes practice. If your nose doesn’t know quite yet, ask for help. A budtender can help you synergize the aroma of your wine with your weed and enhance the overall experience. Many strains have names that help tell you what they smell of.
Picking a Strain
Anecdotally, white wines tend to pair better with sativas and red wines tend to go better with indicas.
If you have a particular white or red in mind, aim to match up the flavors (instead of contrast them). For example, a white grape with hints of berry should go with a strain that also has hints of berry.
Be mindful of strain potency, especially if you are drinking a strong wine. A glass of port (which can be as high as 20 percent in alcohol content) goes better with something low in THC instead of Purple Trainwreck.
If you’re consuming your marijuana through an edible, remember the food pairings mentioned above. A glass of Pinot Noir gels much better with a cannabis-infused pizza than a glass of Riesling.
And again, when in doubt, ask a budtender to help you out. Sommeliers are also a resource, especially if they hail from a legal state (like California). Both wine and weed are chasms – there are so much knowledge and history involved. But hands-on-learning is required to some degree. Pick a strain and a vintage and see what works for you.