Connecting Terpenes, Strains & Cannabinoids with wine & spirits


Terpenes are fragrant oils produced by a variety of fruits, herbs and flowers. They play a beneficial role by attracting or defending against interactions with their environment that aid in their survival. You may be familiar with terpenes and not even know it; your affinity towards your favorite cologne, favorite varietal of wine or favorite flowers is influenced by the terpenes contained within the ingredients.

Consider the following analogy comparing cannabis to grapes, particularly wine. The difference in price between a $10 bottle of wine and a $200 top shelf bottle of wine has nothing to do with the alcohol content, but rather the quality of the ingredients, the production practices, and the resulting nuances of final product. The health of the grape is largely influenced by environmental factors such as soil quality, stability of climate, available nutrients and amount of sunlight as well as the practices of the individual who maintains the vineyard. A crop grown in dynamic conditions will produce suboptimal levels of terpene and nutrients, which is absolutely observable in the finished product. With this in mind, we can start to understand the cause of the subtle differences between vintages of wine and batches of cannabis.

Cannabis, like wine, has many varieties and have their own characteristics. Thanks to modern cultivation and cross breading techniques, we have thousands of strain variants that not only smell, taste and look different, but also have unique effects on the body. The potency of cannabinoids and terpenes is entirely determined by the quality of the environment that it is grown in. Since these elements are what draw consumers to the product, it is no wonder growers invest millions into their facilities, isolating variables and optimizing the environment so they can harvest large yields with high cannabinoid and terpene content.

Let’s go back to an alcohol comparison and think about Cannabinoid potency like the ABV of your favorite spirit and Terpenes as the distinguishing factor between Vodka, Gin, Whiskey, Rum or Tequila. Each type of spirit tastes, feels and interacts with us differently despite sharing the same active ingredient, and we all have our preference for those reasons. The psychoactive effects of alcohol is generally the same across different styles and preparations, while the residual physiological side effects is largely based on the nutrient content such as carbohydrates and sugar. However, this is where the comparison to cannabis ends, as the difference in psychoactive and physiological effects of consuming Cannabis Indica compared to Cannabis Sativa is far greater than consuming different types of alcohol.

Since the terpene and cannabinoid profile vary not only from strain to strain, but from batch to batch, one must be diligent in their search for the strain that will best suit their needs. We always recommend you follow your nose, or rather the terpenes when choosing your cannabis. Smell can trigger a plethora of emotions and memories, you’ll start to develop a more personal relationship with the aroma of strains you enjoy and correlate similarities between other varieties as you relive the previous experiences. This will draw you towards or away from certain strains. If, for example, Durban Poison made you anxious, you’ll probably avoid Sativa strains that smell like Durban Poison and gravitate towards an Indica or Hybrid strain with a different profile.

Where terpenes are the type of spirit, think about cannabinoid potency as the amount of drinks you’re having. There is roughly the same amount of alcohol in a 4oz pour of wine, as a 12oz beer or a 1oz serving of liquor. With cannabis flower, the potency of psychoactive THC can range between 0% and over 35%. Cannabinoids and Terpenes are unevenly distributed throughout the bud so determining how much Active Ingredient you are actually consuming is difficult, unless you’re consuming Honey Forms. Keep in mind that everyone reacts to cannabis differently. Always consume cannabis legally and responsibly. We recommend you go through the process of isolating your “Subjective Therapeutic Window” to figure out what method of consumption is best for you. We’ve developed a general outline of select Cannabinoids, Terpenes, and Strain Characteristics to help get you started on your journey of self discovery.