Combining Cannabis and Alcohol for Pleasure

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People have used alcohol and cannabis together for centuries. I am not going to stop it here.

Cannabis users will finish dinner with wine and a toke. They will pass a joint during a conversation and hit it between swigs of beer. However, there is a risk in overdoing it because something does happen in the chemistry.

Wine and Weed

All wines are not created equal. Reds may have more alcohol than whites. Cabernet, Zinfandel, Shiraz, and rich sweet ports and dessert wines will have a higher potency. Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and Viognier have a lower alcohol count.

Why worry? The higher the alcohol, the faster the THC will metabolize and reach your systems. Because the wine is a mild drink, the combination may go down smoothly, so you must rethink driving soon after indulging. Another solution is to prefer low alcohol content wine with a strain low in THC.

Weed and Brew

Beer is made with hops, a botanical cousin of cannabis. Here, too, it’s a matter of the alcohol content. Some of today’s locally brewed beers have a high alcohol content. Some have a high-enough they are barely within the law. Some must be served in smaller glasses than usual.

Sour beers, ciders, and pilsners are low in alcohol. And, you can find some full-flavored non-alcoholic beers. A simple rule is the darker beers contain more alcohol. You just use the same common sense recommended for pairing cannabis and wine.

Cannabis and spirits

Liquors, of their nature, have higher alcohol levels. The proof is on the label, so you should pay attention to it. In some scenarios, you ask for trouble. Suppose you start a fine inner with two cocktails, enjoy two glasses of wine with dinner, and finish up with an after-dinner cordial. Topping it all off with some cannabis is asking for trouble.

The combination of alcohol, sweet foods, and cannabis strain should lead to bed, not a drive home.

Does it mean you can’t have a good time?

Combining cannabis and alcohol is no problem for those who use their heads. But if you are mixing among friends, you need a designated driver because the alcohol will accelerate the bioavailability of the THC content. So, what you should do is learn to pair your drink and smoke.

You must put as much effort into selecting your strain as you do into picking your vintage. And your nose is key to making good choices. It’s your nose that differentiates quality wines and cannabis strains, so you should put some effort into research and taste testing.

♦ Pinot Noir: The Pinot Noir (Burgundy) is high in acid and low in alcohol. Widely grown and available, Pinot Noir has a long tradition as a table wine, the lighter versions pairing with charcuterie and cold meats and full-bodied types complementing roasted meats. Pinot Noir comes in versatile types with tastes of cranberry, black raspberry, and mulberry. Sonoma wineries market smoky flavors, and the award-winning Willamette Valley pinots have earthy aromas.

Other light reds include Lambrusco, Gamay (Beaujolais), and Zinfandel are popular for dinner and socializing. Durban Poison in a South African landrace sativa that goes nicely with a mild-bodied South African Pinot Noir. It has citrus and spicy tastes and aromas with a stronger psychic punch than you might expect. It will stand up to the wine, but the THC content may make you think twice.

The Blue Cheese Indica hybrid is a different option. Its powerful skunk and blue cheese aroma pushes its blueberry flavors aside. The goat cheese qualities pair nicely with wine and cheese socials, and the lower THC count reduces your risks.

♦ Shiraz: Bold and full-bodied red wines vary by the color — for one thing. And the Shiraz falls at about the mid-point in a range from Merlot at the light end to Petite Sirah on the dark end. The class also includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Malbec. The bold reds taste variously of earth, berries, olives, and spice.

Chefs pair Shiraz with lean and barbecued meats and just about any lamb recipe. And, smart budtenders recommend trying Blackberry Kush Indica and Girl Scout Cookies Hybrid. The Blackberry Kush is an Indica-dominant hybrid with more aroma than taste, rich berry smoke pairing with the wine’s berries. The hugely popular Girl Scout Cookies has a highly potent THC percentage, but it is Indica dominant with earthy berry flavors and aromas that go nicely with reds.

♦ Chardonnay: Of the scores of white wines, Americans prefer the “dry” varieties, those that have a pronounced sweetness. The array of choices includes Viognier, Semillon, Gewürztraminer, Riesling, and more. Especially when chilled, these wines are crisp and zesty.

Chardonnay pairs freshly with mild and creamy platters. It complements fish and shellfish as well as lightly seasoned poultry. It has a silky texture to goes nicely with risotto and creamed kinds of pasta. So, you’ll need a strain that supports the wine’s citrus without overpowering its zest.

Lemon Kush is a perfectly balanced hybrid with a very potent THC content to catch your attention. The refreshing lemon zest in smoke and taste goes smoothly with the Chardonnay’s properties, but the THC will leave you couch-locked, something you don’t want to travel with. The ever-popular Pineapple Express is a hybrid with a much lower THC percent. Like a good Chardonnay, Pineapple Express carries notes that are tropical, fruity, and woody.  

But what about the rest?

The increasing variety of beers and spirits open new opportunities for pairings. There are so many, they deserve their own development. So, look for titles dealing with pairing craft beers and craft strains and pairing Scotch, Whiskey, and Bourbon with enjoyable cannabis experiences.