Wine and Cannabis: Sisters
For thousands of years, wine and wine culture has been associated with wealth and status. The idea of a wine tasting conjures thoughts of black linen, piano jazz, and multilingual socialites. Tight-lipped sommeliers and purple-lipped connoisseurs, condescending past one another with knowing, tolerant smiles. Unparsable jargon: terroir and tannin structure and calcareous marl. Class, distinction, and discriminating taste.
Conversely (and deeply unfortunately), weed culture doesn’t enjoy nearly the same status. For many people, weed culture conjures the smell of old patchouli and memories of uncomfortable drug deals, or worse, thoughts of cartel violence and organized crime. Hiding the plant, hiding the pleasure it represents, hiding a part of one’s identity for fear of stigma and persecution. Where a wine expert can leverage his experience for status and recognition, an outspoken cannabis connoisseur often elicits derision, discomfort, or on a good day, patient patronization.
The explanations for this cultural disparity aren’t too surprising, but neither are they simple, or quickly explained. Functionally, wine and weed have a great deal in common. They come from plants that must be carefully bred over many generations by a devoted and passionate caretaker. The plants must then be processed with the same degree of devotion, for lazy curing or thoughtless vinification can make all the difference in quality. Finally, both products are brought to market for consumers pursuing happiness.
Both are rich with sensory possibilities. Both are produced according to a variety of methods and styles. Both are luxury items consumed for a similar purpose in circumstances that are often functionally identical. Weed certainly has it’s own jargon: beta-caryophyllene and carb-cap and diggity-dank are all pretty opaque terms if you’re not in the scene. Cannabis has been cultivated for at least ten millennia, used medicinally for at least five, and probably many more. Similarly, eight thousand year-old bottles of wine have been discovered intact.
So what’s up? How did things get this way? Why such pomp and reverence for the one, such uncertain ground for the other? How are cannabis and wine different, and perhaps more importantly, ho
w are they similar? Are they treated differently because of fundamental physical differences, the inherent properties of the plants and the chemicals that they produce? Is it humans, their virtues and vices, values and politics, which create and confine cultures? Is the evolution of their cultures actually a conversation in which the plants themselves have a voice, by dint of the way their chemicals change and influence our own?
I’m Jackson, a cannabis enthusiast with a background in fine wine. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be exploring these questions and more. We’ll be taking a close look at the places where weed and wine intersect, in the earth, in the home, in the government, at the dining table, and yes, in the brain itself. We’ll explore the two cultures, the nature of their structures and their respective flexibilities. It’s my position that cannabis and wine are sisters long separated, perhaps a little estranged, and each worse off for the absence of the other. It’s my belief that as cultures, their differences are deeply rooted in history and the politics of race and economics, and not in any natively-occurring schism between the two products or the people who use them.
It’s my hope that as we enjoy the end of cannabis prohibition, they will begin to reach out to one another. In forward-thinking, progressive places, it’s already beginning, and one of those places is right here.
A Note About Safety: Judicious use of cannabis and alcohol produce a natural synergy that some people find very enjoyable. Cannabis and alcohol can potentiate, or enhance, one another’s effect. At a certain dose, which varies from person to person, this combination almost always results in nausea and a certain level of disorientation, even for people who may have high tolerances to either or both of the constituent drugs. The point is, when combining, dose small, and accent one drug with the other, don’t combine them equally. No one under the influence of alcohol or psychoactive cannabis derivatives should operate a motor vehicle or heavy machinery. No one combining the two should operate anything more complex or dangerous than a corkscrew, and be careful with that foil cutter, buddy. As always, combustion is stressful to the lungs, and alcohol is neurotoxic and hepatotoxic. Small doses of alcohol are much safer than large doses.
PAIRING POSSIBILITY #1
Dönnhoff Riesling trocken 2012 & Jack Herer
This is a recipe for a laugh riot. Pour a couple glasses and pass around a vaporizer. Delight in the plethora of pleasant fruit and floral aromas, get into a really intense conversation about Taylor Swift vs. Katie Perry, and eventually, inevitably, start laughing your butt off. Pair with pad thai and coconut milk.
- Wiengut Dönnhoff makes some of my favorite Riesling in the world. It’s quite dry, offering a gently floral character on the nose which it follows with anjou pear, nectarine, and a razor’s edge of minerality. Tastes brilliant and balanced, but with the higher alcohol content that one expects of a drier Riesling.
- Jack Herer has been the single most influential person in the history of American cannabis activism. The strain that bears his name also echoes his character; it’s stimulating, engaging, enhancing, enabling… a firework of a sativa! Perhaps most importantly for our purposes today, it’s also one of the most uniquely and pleasantly aromatic strains in the field. Sweet, ripe, pink lady apples, rich strawberry, with a ribbons of floral and cinnamon aromas.
Jackson Holder made the pilgrimage from the Deep South to the Northwest in search of equality, opportunity, and really excellent weed. He found all three.
Photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/de-rigueur/5957951081/”>jewdini</a> / <a href=”http://foter.com/”>Foter</a> / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>CC BY</a>