Cannabis-infused wine — chuck or cheers?

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North America’s growing cannabis industry has ignited the imaginations of the creative entrepreneurs heading cannabis businesses. To get an edge over their competitors, many brands are experimenting with new and increasingly creative ways of consuming cannabis. For example, cannabis-infused wine, CBD wine or hemp-infused wine.

Throughout history, wine enthusiasts have paired their favorite varietals with their favorite foods and moods. Now, a new trend is cropping up in regions of the United States known for wine and cannabis production: hemp-infused wine. Curious consumers on the hunt for novel experiences are enjoying weed wine effects and pushing cultivators to continue exploring this pairing. 

What is cannabis-infused wine?

True to its name, cannabis-infused wine is a wine that includes cannabis or hemp extracts. Specific types include CBD wine and alcohol-free versions, where the wine is infused with both CBD and THC or in some cases, just THC.  

In areas of the United States with recreational cannabis access, commercially available “cannawine” must be alcohol-free to comply with laws that prohibit the sale of products containing both alcohol and THC. Due to this, wine infused with CBD and hemp-infused wine do not have to be alcohol-free because these cannabis extracts contain less than the legally defined trace amounts of 0.3% THC. 

If you’ve seen cannabis-infused wines sold commercially in areas without recreational cannabis laws, they are either CBD wines or hemp-infused wines. Simply put, commercially available cannabis-infused wine in the US can get you high or inebriated, never both.

How to make cannabis-infused wine

We have been pairing cannabis with wine for almost two millennia for purposes ranging from pain relief to sedation to religious rituals.

Earlier, more rustic methods of producing cannabis-infused wine used alcohol as a powerful solvent for extracting compounds from the cannabis plants. This infusion method is typically used for making tinctures from various botanicals and results in a product that extracts terpenes and cannabinoids without any degree of specificity or precision. The result is a weed wine that contains cannabinoids as well as the plant’s aromatic terpenes.

Although some of these weed wines have a pleasing aroma, certain terpenes like pinene create more pungent “skunky” notes that also deliver unpalatable flavors that overpower the wine’s flavor. Earlier variations of cannabis-infused wines were likely harder to stomach than modern alternatives. 

Advances in food and drink technology have made it easier to make tasty cannabis-infused wine by solving the challenge of making cannabinoids water-soluble. Emulsions are oil-based water-soluble solutions that are formed when the droplets of one liquid are evenly dispersed within another. These make it easier to incorporate oil-based mixtures into other liquids and provide other benefits, including long-term stability, water compatibility and increased absorption in the body once they are ingested.

Thanks to emulsion technology, targeted cannabinoids like THC and CBD can be selectively extracted from cannabis to yield colorless, odorless extracts. These can then be easily incorporated into wine, resulting in a product that smells and tastes great.

Weed wine effects

Like the effects of other cannabis products, your reaction to cannabis-infused wine depends on the type of extract used, its dosage and your individual endocannabinoid system and tolerance. In other words, don’t assume a glass of cannabis wine will hit the same as a joint or an edible.

Cannabis-infused wine is not metabolized by the body the same way as cannabis that’s smoked or vaporized, so it has a different absorption rate. Like with edibles, the effects of drinkables like weed wine are typically felt later after ingestion. While edibles take generally one to two hours to hit, most drinkables take between 45 to 60 minutes.

However, for wines that have been blended with extracts from nanoemulsions, you can feel the effects in as little as 15 minutes. Nanoemulsions are one of the latest developments in the world of infused cannabis products. They reduce the droplet size of oil and water mixtures, making the cannabis extracts even more absorbable and shelf-stable.

California-based cannabis-infused beverage company Rebel Coast’s proprietary method of manufacturing results in a THC cannabis wine that they claim is effective within 15 minutes. Their 750ml bottles contain 40mg of THC and deliver low doses of around 10mg per glass. 

As with any edible or drinkable product, when testing weed wine effects for yourself, remember to take it low and slow, then wait a while before knocking back another glass. And should you find yourself with a weed hangover, we’ve got tips!

Toasting the future of cannabis-infused wine

Cannabis-infused wine is an exciting innovation in the cannabis industry. It’s also changing the wine industry by pushing manufacturers and consumers alike to rethink what they know about wine. It tempts curious consumers who want to experience the flavor sensation of their favorite Sauvignon with the mood-enhancing benefits of their favorite smoke.

As interest and demand continue to increase, the future of weed wine looks promising. And more importantly, it also tastes delicious! We’ll drink to that!

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