What Does it Mean to be a Canniseur of Cannabis?
Is it the same as being a wine connoisseur?
During the 25 or so years I worked in the wine business, I discovered a lot of people like wine but about 90% weren’t particular about what they drank. They were, however, extremely sensitive about the price. It had to taste good enough. If a $5 bottle tasted like $5, that was OK. If that same $5 bottle tasted like $7 or $8, they were consumers for life. Why should cannabis and the people who consume cannabis be any different?
The Canniseur of Cannabis
As with wine, about 90% of cannabis consumers aren’t fussy about the quality of their weed, but they are particular about the cost. If it gets them high and it’s cheap, they’re happy. Personally, both taste and quality of both my wine and my weed are where it’s at. Selling a bottle of wine for $6 isn’t hard. It’s the same for cannabis flower. At $6 per gram, it’ll fly out the door. I’ve watched many people walk into a dispensary and ask which strain is the cheapest, or which strain has the highest THC content.
I didn’t understand this in the beginning. After spending enough time in dispensaries, I began to understand the analog between wine and cannabis consumers is real. Asking how much THC is in the flower is like going into a wine shop or liquor store and asking for the Chardonnay with the highest alcohol content. Overly alcoholic wine, and I’m not talking about Port that has 20% alcohol content but a table wine, with that much alcohol tastes terrible. For me, 30% THC flower is overpowering. But many people want exactly that.
What I Look for in a Wine
Wine is a love of mine and no two wines taste alike. What I’m looking for when I drink wine can be described in four words; Color, aroma, taste and finish.
Color / appearance; Is the wine completely clear? If it’s a red wine, what color red is it? Deep and dark or light and clear? For a white wine, is it golden, clear or straw-colored?
Aroma (or nose in the wine biz) is how the wine smells. Does the aroma only have one or two discrete smells? That’s a simple wine which is not bad in and of itself. Is it complex (as good and great wines are)? Are there a lot of aromas in the wine you can pick out clearly?
Taste in your wine should be well defined. Are there just a few flavors or a lot of flavors (complexity)?
Finish or aftertaste. How long do you taste the wine after you’ve swallowed your sip (or gulp!). In most wines, there is no lingering finish. Some wines have an aftertaste that goes on and on and on and that’s one of the definitions of great wine.
I have tasting notes for about 5,000 wines and have tasted several times that without taking notes and can unequivocally state that I’ve had only five or ten truly great wines in my life. Really. They’re that rare and they’re that memorable. I’ve had hundreds of incredibly good wines in my life, but they weren’t like that handful at the top. I can say the same for great cannabis.
What I Look for in Cannabis
I like the effect of cannabis more than I like the effect of alcohol. Like wine, cannabis quality consists of four areas; appearance, aroma, taste, and the finish (the effect). The first three can be evaluated pretty much the same as wine, but the last (the effect) is more difficult to describe and is developing a language of its own.
Look at the bud and ask; Is it pretty? Is it well trimmed or is it over trimmed? Does it appear tight and compact or is it loose? Too tight and it might have been grown with Plant Growth Regulators (PRGs, which are bad) Is it dry and crumbly (bad) or is it pliant and has some moisture left in the buds. What are the colors in the flower? Are there some bright orange pistils or is it covered with them (a sign of possible PGR use) or is it tight or loose?
Does the cannabis cultivar have a bright fresh aroma? What does it smell like? Fruit, muskiness, lemony or whatever? The aroma, which should be readily distinguishable in cannabis should be different from cultivar to cultivar and in great cannabis has a lot of different elements. I love the differences in terpenes from strain to strain. Just like a great wine, some cannabis flowers have wonderful aromas that are very distinguishable, but most cannabis strains, while being pleasant to smell, aren’t that complex.
Does it taste like it smells? In the cannabis world I inhabit, the taste is as important as the smell. If it smells lemony, is there a lemony taste? Is it harsh or is it smooth? Here is where you’ll taste how well it’s been cured. Well-cured cannabis is smooth while poorly cured cannabis flower is harsh and will probably make you cough.
Then there’s the effect. Some flower gives me a buzz that, for lack of a better word, is generic. “Yep, it’s a buzz alright, but it’s not a distinguishable buzz.” It’s either a bit energizing or a bit sleepy and then it just locks me to the couch after about an hour. The cannabis effect that I look for has a super energizing feel with a mental feeling of openness. It’s what I like. You may like something different. It’s all good.
What is a Canniseur?
Being a cannabis canniseur doesn’t mean you’re a cannabis snob, although it does mean you’re aware of all the things about cannabis that matter (see above). Like wine, I’ve only had what I consider great bud four or five times. I’ve had some really good weed and I’ve had a lot of mediocre weed. When weed was illegal everywhere, I didn’t have much choice. But now, as the legal cannabis world opens up, I find myself looking for that holy grail of great weed in a dispensary. I’ve found some pretty good strains legally and I’ve found some dispensary weed to be almost great. At dispensaries I’ve never found any awesome weed. This may be the difference between black market and dispensary cannabis, not that black market cannabis has given me anything truly great in a while.
A canniseur takes care of their flowers. I store mine in the jars with a 62% Boveda humidifier packet. This keeps the buds fresh. I also like to have a little bit of a lot of strains around. So I’ll buy a gram, or an eighth if I really like a strain. And then I’ll want more, which is a different story.
There is an answer to the low-quality weed found in most dispensaries. Growers supplying dispensaries need to step up their game. Too many people just accept what they get, especially if it’s cheap. There will always be that 10% or so of cannabis consumers who do care about the quality. They won’t win the day and the cannabis they buy won’t be exceptional. Maybe if we pay $40 or $50 per gram for flower that approaches greatness and $75 per gram for truly great weed cost, that’s OK. But only if it’s truly great!