Everybody and their mothers seem to be pushing cannabis-infused wines. It’s generally illegal to process the product, partly because there are two oversight agencies to please. So, some entrepreneur oenologists are aggressively trying the end run the regulatory issues.
Where it is available, cannabis-infused wine is so pricey it will keep even the elite fussing about their locally-sourced IPAs. As someone who likes his wine and has some training in wine-making and appreciation, I believe the infusion is not a plus for the wine.
Of course, I don’t believe they should be adding honey to Bushmills Irish Whiskey, Apple to Royal Crown, or Cinnamon to Jim Beam Bourbon. OMG, they’re putting maple syrup in Knob Creek, honey in Dewar’s, and chocolate in Prichard’s!
I also picture dinners from cannabis-sprinkled salads to cannabis brownies paired with cannabis-infused wines and followed with cannabis coffee. It’s just too much of a good thing!
About cannabis-infused wine
Having gotten that off my chest, cannabis-infused wines are for those who just want a little extra in their wine. They may compare one cannabis wine with another but judging them against Lodi’s fine Zinfandels or Willamette Valley’s best Pinot Noirs is comparing apples and oranges.
This is not just another wine varietal. Cannabis-wine is what it is, and the industry is so new the best has not risen to the top. And, to circumvent the prices and legal restrictions, many are distilling their own at home.
Cannabis-infused wine is for sale?
- Mary Jane Wines was poised to lead the market with its hemp-CBD wines. But, as of January 16, 2019, their website is under construction with the comment: “Until the FDA rules that industrial hemp-derived CBD oil and CBD products can be used as a food or California makes a determination that they are safe to use for human and animal consumption, CBD products are not an approved food, food ingredient, food additive, or dietary supplement.” They are working to comply with or change California’s Assembly Bill No. 2914.
- CannaVines boasts, “online sales are coming soon.” But, at this time, the wines are only available to participants in California Wine and Weed Tours. Vintners Jeremy and Jayde Fish have fashioned a major marketing effort from Napa Valley with a Headband red blend with hints of lemon, a tropical Chardonnay x Sour D, and a Rose infused with high-quality CBD and Grand Daddy Terpenes. You won’t find pricing unless you taste on the tour.
- Rebel Coast Cannabis Infused Sauvignon Blanc is a non-alcoholic wine created to by-pass the prohibition of mixing weed and alcohol. It’s a refreshing low-cal, low-THC with a crisp citrus taste. They also market a Reckless Love red blend and Sunday Funday white blend. Rebel Coast comes out of Hermosa Beach which, although not wine country, is home to the South Bay millennials’ taste for afternoon whites.
- Saka Wines has launched a luxury line from Napa Valley, beautifully labeled and wrapped. Their product features a 100% water-soluble CBD/THC. Both the Saka Rosé and Brut Rosé come from a single vineyard blended with organically grown craft cannabis with patented THC and CBD ratios. It should be available in California at the end of March 2019.
- Sovereign Vines has been marketing hemp-infused wines since the 90s. They have six wines: Cayuga White, a semi-sweet white wine, Harvest Red Blend, a smooth and fruity mix of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Old Vine Zinfandel, Sweet Rosé, a sweet, but not too sweet strawberry-flavored wine, a Dry Rosé, and two limited-edition wines. This business has invested in a classy look and appeal for sales at restaurants, bars, and wine stores—across Upstate New York.
For all practical purposes, alcohol and cannabis blended wines are not available. The California legislature presents barriers—strengthened by established wine interests—to the distribution and sale of cannabis-infused wines.
How to make your own
People have mixed alcohol and cannabis for ages. Ancient caregivers valued a mixture to relieve pain and nausea. And, contemporary medicine is looking at the medical benefits. Many citizens, then, are making their own for good taste and drinking enjoyment or for an easy administration of medical benefits.
As you might expect, there are countless recipes for infusing your wine. So, let’s keep it simple:
1. Decarboxylate your cannabis. You must heat the weed to activate the THC. In its natural state, the weed holds THCA which only releases its energy through heating. You need an eighth of your favorite strain broken up and scattered across a baking dish.
Covering it all with aluminum foil, you bake it at 220°F for twenty minutes. Then, let it cool until you can handle it.
2. Grind the product. Using a cannabis grinder or mortar and pestle, you grind the baked cannabis into a dry tea consistency.
3. Create tea bags. You can shape tea bag packets out of cheesecloth. You don’t want to overfill the packets or pack them too tightly. Tying the cheesecloth corners tight at the top, you submerge the weed bags in the bottle of red or white wine of your choice poured into a bowl.
Covering the bowl with cellophane, you let it steep in the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours, stirring approximately every four hours to improve the extraction and reduce the settling.
4. Drink up. After you remove the bowl from the refrigerator and the cannabis bags from the brew, you must strain it repeatedly through fine cheesecloth to eliminate any debris.
Save the wine in its original bottle with its original cork.
5. Try it again. After your first try, you should learn how to adjust the ingredients and process. You can’t expect perfection the first try. So, pay attention to the tastes and potency.
You may find the cannabis taste and aromas too strong, or you may not like the effects. However, you have many options. You can add essences of fruits and spices to taste.
There are more complicated ways, some using cooking. But, for most folks, you can expect a red great for mulling or a white great for punch. You might fill bowls full of wine with fruit for a refreshing Sangria.
Putting the cork on it!
If you want medical treatment, you might choose to infuse a port wine or brandy that might be sipped before bed. From my point of view currently, the real value in cannabis-infused wines is as a delivery system for medical benefits.
If you have been making your own wine for some time, you have an advantage in producing a bottle of passably good wine. But, you just might choose to pair a smoking strain with a glass of your best wine for a relaxing after-dinner spell.