Cannabis has been a huge part of nearly all cultures on the planet for thousands of years. The versatile herb has been used to make many different types of consumption methods for the THC that lives within the plant. Most people have famously smoked the herb, others have used it to cook special foods, and still others merely concentrate the oils of the plant into a tincture that can be enjoyed through vaporization or direct consumption. Some have attempted to infuse different types of alcohol with cannabis with mixed results, but one of the most successful forms of infused libations is wine.
Some of the earliest records of civilization include accounts of cannabis being infused into wine. The Chinese Han Dynasty was known to produce a fermented mixture of grapes and cannabis that they used to anesthetize surgical patients. This might seem like a grizzly use of the concoction, but it was probably far preferable to experiencing surgery while totally awake and aware.
It wasn’t until the late 1980s that cannabis-infused wine started to gain popularity in the United States. At the time, wine makers in the state of California started experimenting with what they called ‘pot wine’, and they often fermented the beverage simply to share with their family and friends. Pot wine became a staple of high-end wine gatherings, especially private gatherings between trusted associates. Most cannabis-infused wine is made from rosé, and the bottles are almost always unlabeled. It is quite expensive to produce cannabis-infused wine, and the American War on Drugs made the industry prohibitively risky for many.
However, the recent shift is marijuana laws throughout the United States has made it easier for wine makers to enjoy their special interests. Wine fermenters in California, specifically, are able to enjoy a wide range of cannabis products, including edibles, medical marijuana, and wine infused with the herb. If the laws continue to evolve with the changing times, as they are prone to do, then it is likely that a legitimate consumer version of cannabis-infused wine might reach the market. Until then, private vendors continue to operate inside their own pseudo-blackmarket.
Some celebrities are even getting in on the action by voicing their opinions on the subject. Melissa Etheridge, the famous guitarist, singer, and songwriter, was once a casual user of cannabis. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, and she underwent chemotherapy to treat the condition. After she was able to move past the illness, she started working closely with the public in the hopes of changing to perception of cannabis, especially for medical use. She has even started to produce her own cannabis-infused wines and other tinctures with a brand called Greenway Compassionate Relief. Her brand has no official name, so it is called ‘No Label’ amongst the industry professionals. Her cannabis-infused wines include Grenache and Shiraz.
You may be familiar with another similar product, which is a homemade cannabis-infused spirit called Green Dragon. This product is made by simply soaking marijuana in grain alcohol, and it is far easier to make than cannabis-infused wine. Finished wine doesn’t have a high enough alcohol concentration to pull the THC from the cannabis without heat or some other additive process, unlike the immensely high concentration of alcohol found in grain spirits. It’s actually the fermentation process itself that draws the THC from the cannabis as the wine is produced.
Most makers of cannabis-infused wine will add about a pound of the herb to a whole cask of wine before it has fermented. They tend to balance indicas and sativas to produce a unique ‘high’. If laws continue to change, you might find yourself browsing cannabis-infused wines in Colorado or California soon.