By Emily Earlenbaugh
Cannabis and wine enthusiasts gathered last Friday for a Crab and Cannabis Fête, hosted by TSO Sonoma and Ellipsis Wine as part of their Elevated Evenings series. The event, attended in large part by cannabis industry professionals in town for the Emerald Cup, offered guests a sumptuous seafood feast in a rustic but luxurious setting. Held on a Cloverdale farm, the space felt more like a five-star restaurant, than a repurposed barn. Bright string-lights and candles illuminated immaculately set tables, with benches and chairs draped in furs. Guests were greeted with brut and oysters, and a classical guitar player sat in the corner providing live music. The gourmet meal, served in family style courses, was a true culinary delight.
Still, while the crab that the event was named for was delicious, the real star of the evening was the wine and weed tasting. The hosts led guests through three different sets of wine and cannabis, each paired by their terpenes. This wasn’t the first time anyone has used terpenes to pair wine and weed, but it was a beautiful example of this growing trend.
Pairing Wine and Weed by Terpenes
Wine and cannabis is combination that has been around for thousands of years, but with cannabis’ recent comeback as a legal recreational substance, this pair is moving from private sessions to upscale occasions. “The dinner parties of yesterday are no more” says one of the event’s hosts Devika Maskey, of Tso Sonoma and Ellipsis Wines. “This is how dinner parties are evolving now. People are having their cannabis with wine at dinner.” But what is the best way to pair these two popular dinner-party companions?
Terpenes, chemicals which provide the varying smells and flavors present in wine and cannabis, are one way to make these pairings pop.
Pairing by terpene means that flavors and smells blend seamlessly together. Because terpenes also contribute to the effects of wine and cannabis, pairing by terpenes can also help to create consistent effects. “Just like a white wine is a great day time drink, we recommend pairing it with some uplifting Sativa.” Maskey explains, “You’d pair your heavier wines with an Indica, so it’s almost like a dessert.”
A Tasting To Remember
At this event, the hosts provided three pairings for guests to enjoy. As the tasting began, wine glasses were filled. Hosts passed out jars of cannabis to smell, and joints to smoke, as cannabis growers and winemakers took turns describing their offerings. “The way you approach cannabis tastings can be similar to how you approach wine tastings.” Maskey explained to guests. “For wine we first observe and then smell and then taste. We can do the same with cannabis.”
The first pairing was the Scharffenberger Brut Excellence from the Anderson Valley (that guests were given upon arrival), paired with the TSO Sonoma Mindful Vape Pen. The high-CBD vape pen (which was included in each guest’s place setting) featured the terpenes limonene, myrcene and pinene. These terpenes create a bright and citrusy flavor palate which paired well with the bright acidity and lemon notes of the brut.
The second pairing included the Vermentino ‘Hers’ from Ryme Cellars in Carneros, along with TSO Farms’ strain Candyland. Winemaker Megan Blaag described her Vermentino as “bright, fresh, very citrusy, and definitely on the higher terpene levels, which makes it great for pairing.” The vineyards proximity to the ocean “adds a bright, salty, lemon acidity.”
The bright lemony flavors of the Vermentino paired well with the Candyland, which was described as having candied citrus notes, with high levels of limonene, myrcene and pinene.
The final pairing, the Pinot Noir from Ellipsis Wines in the Anderson Valley, and TSO Farm’s strain Harle-tsu, moved onto deeper, earthier notes.
Harle-tsu, a high-CBD variety of cannabis, was described by Tso Farms’ Jonathan Neisingh as “earthy with notes of cherry”. It’s high levels of myrcene, pinene and caryophyllene created deep fruity flavors which paired well with the Pinot Noir’s aroma of dark cherry, tobacco, black pepper, mushroom, and forest floor.
This elegant event was one more example of the unique and high-end experiences that can be created when wine and weed come together. More than one guest was overheard saying “This is my kind of party!”