By Melissa Hutsell
The era of cannabis wines is upon us, bringing with it a new category of consumption.
Leading this new category (and even the traditional wine industry) are rosés.
The overall infused beverage market, which includes THC and CBD wines, is predicted to earn more than $1 billion in sales by 2022, reports BDS Analytics.
While (legally) new to modern consumers, the history of infusing wine with weed runs deep. However, today’s cannabis vino are unlike those made by our ancestors.
Cannabis Infused = Alcohol Free
Most cannabis infused wine doesn’t contain alcohol. In California—mixing two of the state’s finest crops is prohibited.
So, winemakers remove the alcohol from these products through dealcoholization. This process eliminates all, or nearly all (.05%) of the alcohol. It’s the same process used to make alcoholic wines, reports Winerist Magazine. However, “the alcohol is simply removed at the end.”
That’s done using vacuum distillation or reverse osmosis. But, in any case, it begins with an alcoholic wine. That alcohol is then extracted; leaving the aroma and flavor fully in tact, according to BevZero, a company that processes non-alcoholic and cannabis-infused beer, wine and cider.
But, there’s more to creating these intoxicating blends than removing alcohol, and adding cannabis. The Emerald spoke to the experts at Vertosa to learn about these intoxicating blends.
Creating Intoxicating Blends
Each wine has its own complex chemistry, explains Dr. Harold Han, chemist and founder of Vertosa, an infusion technology company.
“There’s a whole living mixture in wine,” he adds. “That’s different than a simple soda water.”
Effectively creating these love potions requires an understanding of oenology (wine science) and cannabis emulsion science.
An emulsion is a liquid suspended in another liquid, explains Han. Vertosa is one of the first companies to create such emulsions for wine.
When it comes to cannabis oil and water, “those two liquids don’t like each other.” He continues, “Our technology makes them like each other, and be stable together.”
The goal with emulsions—it doesn’t matter if it’s wine, juice or coffee—is to infuse oil into water. Otherwise it’s very hard to put cannabis oil into a beverage,” Han adds.
“Imagine you have a big blob of THC distillate. The distillate doesn’t dissolve in water,” he explains. “But, then we add our proprietary mixture of surfactants.”
That’s the magic component, says Han. It’s the molecule that makes the oil like water because half of surfactant is oil-like, the other half—water-like.
So, it sits on the surface between the oil and water, connecting the two, Han says. The result is a more water-compatible solution. The more water compatible it is, the more bioavailable it is. Simply put, this means it can be absorbed better, and more quickly, by the body.
Vertosa’s process also uses energy to break oil droplets into micro, or nano-sized droplets, further increasing their bioavailability.
The result: more accurate dosing, and quicker onsets, says Han. “For example, if you want 10mg of THC in an 8 ounce aluminum can, or 50mg CBD in a 750mL wine bottle, you can accurately dose that.”
On average, Vertosa’s emulsions have an onset of less than 10 minutes. When it comes to wine—this is especially important.
With regular wine, a drinker typically feels its effects by the end of their first cup. That is what consumers are looking for, says Han. “If I drink cannabis wine, I want to feel that also. That’s where emulsions help.”
Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all formula. For example, emulsions that work for coffee in a can may not work for red wine in a glass bottle, says Han. And what works for reds doesn’t necessarily work for whites or rosés. That’s why Vertosa starts with the end product, then works backwards to create a stable solution specific to the end application.
That further enhances the individuality of each. See how so in these three rosés below.
Note: Serve chilled, and pair with an aged cheese (I went with a personal fav, Dubliner).
Stonebush Pink: The Vino for Flower Lovers
The THC-infused blend is marketed as a crisp, California treat—and that it is!
Sontebush uses all-star line-up of Emerald Triangle cannabis. Strains include: Lemon Kush, Purple Trainwreck, and OG Kush.
It tastes slightly floral, subtly sweet, a bit bitter—but boldly tangy. It’s earthy, and has a plant-like flavor and aroma. True flower lovers will appreciate this rosé.
At only 30mg per bottle, I found it easy to finish a bottle in one night with no crazy high, or a hangover in the morning. Don’t worry, I shared! And even split between two or three others, this low dose bevy is suitable for those with a high tolerance (thanks to emulsions process).
I was most impressed, however, with the quick onset. The company boosts a 10-15 onset…but, I felt it slightly sooner. Similar to drinking wine, I was feelin’ euphoric by the end of the first glass!
Sip Cozy: The Perfect Post-Work-Wind-Down
While Stonebush features some of Cali’s best bud, Sip Cozy’s Grenache Blend Rosé is made with some of the state’s finest wine grapes, grown in Paso Robles and Madera.
The blend is made with 40mg of full-spectrum hemp extract per bottle, so it’s high in CBD but contains no detectable traces of THC. You can truly drink this rosé all day.
Sip Cozy captures what’s best about rosé: it’s made for a more feminine palette. It tastes “pink;” rosy, acidic, and balanced with fruity notes of grapefruit. While a bit herbal, it didn’t taste weedy.
Effects set in after the first glass (roughly 10 minutes). I felt the tension in my neck fade, and my mood, uplifted. Plus, I got a great night’s sleep, and woke up rejuvenated.
My favorite thing about the rosé was the unpacking experience. Sip Cozy nailed it! My bottle arrived in a color-coordinated box, complete with a bottle opener and a reusable silicone cap. That, and it’s non-psychoactive profile, make this rosé a great gift for any lady in your life.
Viv and Oak: The Ultimate Cannabis Infused Rosé
Viv and Oak’s Sparkling Rosé is made for true vinophiles.
This light, crisp, sparkling blend stays true to its rosé roots. It’s the most wine-like out of the bunch, and something I imagine being served at a dinner party, or in Napa wine bar.
The carbonation is milder than a champagne. But, it almost tastes like champagne because it’s so smooth, and drinkable. There’s a slight bitterness, which is complemented by strawberry and citrus undertones. The aroma is lovely, too!
One bottle contains 50mg of THC. While I didn’t taste cannabis, I felt its effects—which were invigorating—before finishing the first glass. I was giddy, and ready for more!
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Keep an eye out for these rosés at California dispensaries, or get them delivered. In the meantime, stay tuned to the Emerald for more infused wine reviews—and let us know your favorite!