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  • The Herb Somm

3 Tips for Pairing Food, Wine, and Weed

Welcome to the new era of gourmet dining

(Photo Credit: Devika Maskey, TSO Sonoma)

Earlier this week, The Herb Somm was invited to present at an event hosted by Eaze that highlighted the similarities between wine and cannabis. The evening’s discussion stemmed from the theme of normalization, and how modern day cannabis enthusiasts are incorporating herbal products into everyday life.

After living in the Bay Area for almost five years now, it’s hard to ignore the booming culinary industry that has given our community recognition as being a top gourmet destination. From Sonoma County to Napa Valley, to Oakland, to San Francisco, we are blessed to have access to some of the best food, wine, and cannabis found on this planet.

As 2018 approaches, the industry is seeing a growing trend of elevated gourmet experiences, infused cooking classes, and most recently wine and cannabis pairings. The truth is, foodies love discovering new flavors and aromas, and are fascinated by unique opportunities. Welcome to the new era of gourmet dining, combining the delicious worlds of food, cannabis, and fine wine.

This may come as a shocker (or not) but yes! These three things actually work very well together. There are just a few guidelines that you should follow to have the best experience possible.

Learn Terpene Profiles

Whether you are smoking cannabis with a meal, eating an infusion, or simply smelling the aromas, the key to adding herb to a gourmet meal is to know your terpene profiles. Cannabis, food, and wine harmonize perfectly once you find similar aromas and flavors.

For example, at the Eaze event, we paired Humboldt Farms Purple Punch, Ellipsis Wine Company's Zinfandel 2013, and chicken meatballs topped with crispy shallots and spicy tomato sauce. This fruit-forward strain has high levels of the terpene beta-caryophyllene and presents complex aromas of dark berry and raspberry, followed by marionberry, purple grape candy, and currants. These same characteristics are found in the Ellipsis Zinfandel presenting blackberry, juicy red fruits, and bold, spicy flavors. The idea is to first pair the cannabis terpene aromas to the bouquet of the wine.

Next, add in the food. You’ll want to find a pairing that is balanced meaning you want the weight of the food to match the weight of the wine and cannabis. Match heavier foods such meatballs with full-bodied red wines and strains rich in myrcene or beta-caryophyllene.

As with the cannabis and wine pairings, you’ll also want to find similar aromas and flavors in the food. Concentrate on the most prominent flavor, then build the pairing. For example, if you are enjoying a glass of red wine for dessert that displays notes of dark chocolate, a cannabis strain such as Chocolate Kush would pair nicely alongside a gourmet chocolate brownie. At the Eaze dinner, the chicken meatballs were a perfect pairing with Purple Punch and Zinfandel due to the slight sweetness of the meat and spices.

For more Herb Somm food & cannabis pairing tips, click here.

Know Your Limits

Knowing your limits is extremely important when it comes to attending an infused dinner or making one at home. While many chefs are mastering the art of finding the right balance of THC to serve to their guests, it’s really up to you to determine your perfect dosage. Remeber the golden rule: Start low, go slow. During a pairing dinner, drinking alcohol can greatly enhance the effects of cannabis, so don't over do it. Edibles and infused products can also take up to one to two hours for the side effects to kick in, so be patient. Do not keep eating infused foods or drinking infused beverages if you don’t feel anything right away.

Read The Herb Somm Edibles Guide here.

Be Adventurous

As with any dining experience, have an open mind when it comes to adding cannabis to your cuisine or pairing it alongside your meal. If you are entertaining guests, I also recommend incorporating some educational components to the meal. For example, during the Eaze event, we put together a terpene aroma bar highlighting the different scents that are naturally found in cannabis.

I was also asked to lead the group through a sensory training, highlighting four of the most common terpenes found in cannabis and how the aromas relate to wine. The featured terpenes included Limonene (citrus notes found in white wines), Myrcene (herbal or tropical notes found in both red and white wines), Linalool (floral and lavender notes that are often displayed in red wines), and Caryophyllene (spicy black pepper and clover notes that are found in red wines).

The group was then presented with three pairings that incorporated wine, cannabis, and food. Below were the featured combinations crafted in partnership with Devika Maskey, founder of Ellipsis Wines & TSO Sonoma, and Zach Rubin, co-founder of Humboldt Farms. Since this session was focused on aromas, guests did not consume the cannabis.

Pairing #1

Scribe Chardonnay 2014 paired with Humboldt Farms Tangimal Cookies and grilled pork flat iron with chimichurri and pickled onions.

Pairing #2

Ellipsis Pinot Noir Anderson Valley 2014 paired with Humboldt Farms Loopy Fruit and wild mushroom toast muhammara, topped with smoked cheddar.

Pairing #3

Ellipsis Zinfandel Russian River Valley 2013 paired with Humboldt Farms Purple Punch and chicken meatballs with crispy shallots in a spicy tomato sauce.

As you continue to learn more about combining food, wine, and cannabis, there are so many incredible flavor and aroma pairings. The combinations are endless, so remember to be adventurous with your palate and above all, have fun!

For more Herb Somm pairing ideas, click here.

Below are some other special moments from the Eaze dinner held on Tuesday, October 24th, 2017 at the Cookhouse in San Francisco.

Many thanks to the Eaze team for hosting this special event and a big thank you to all of the wonderful sponsors including Humboldt Farms, Ellipsis Wines, TSO Sonoma, Goldilocks, and Good Co-Op that made this concept come to life.

Until next time!

Peace, Love & Cannabis,

The Herb Somm



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