There’s been a lot of hype around cannabis and wine recently. Winnabis is what we millennials call it. It’s hard to separate the college party contingent thirst for a potion into which two psychoactive substances have been crammed, from the more sober, scholarly consideration of the 3,700+ year history of fortifying wine with cannabis. And the allegedly potent healing powers of cannabis-wine are almost always overlooked, advocates complain. Is winnabis just an elevated partying tool? Or can it actually help people who suffer from various maladies? Also - is it any good?
Historically, wine fortified with cannabis hasn’t been guzzled at your average Thirsty Thursday happy hour. Instead, winnabis has been consumed during religious rituals and used as a form of anesthesia in surgery. Yes, it’s that powerful. “Records of the marijuana plant being utilized for medicinal purposes date back to the 28th century B.C. In China during the second century A.D., archeologists found records showing that the founder of Chinese surgery, Hua T’o, used wine fortified with cannabis resin to reduce pain during surgery”, says Krithi Thaver, founder of Canna Culture and chair of the KZN branch of the Cannabis Development Council of SA.”
According to Thaver, “Cannabis is one of the less dangerous additives” to make a comeback, of which there are a few other less promising entries in the wine fortification market. “Evidence for the additives comes from folkloric traditions and the practice is apparently often employed in the making of home brews,” Thaver explains.
While the exact recipes for winnabis aren’t readily available, a commonly used manufacturing method now is cold-pressed, never heated. “It may not have the exact psychotropic effect one would expect. Instead, cannabis acts more like an herb would, adding depth of flavor and structure to wines”, says Thaver.
In South Africa, it’s legal to possess and cultivate cannabis for private use for persons over the age of 18 years. “Cannabis is highly medicinal,” says asserts the Dagga Couple, a pro-cannabis lobbyist organization in South Africa, founded by Julian Stobbs and Myrtle Clarke. “And even when people think they are just using cannabis recreationally or to relax, it probably has an underlying medical or psychological component. Many years ago, I tried cannabis-infused wine that a winemaking friend of mine made for his own personal consumption and I loved it. I got the recipe from him and I started working on my own batch seven years ago. It tastes just like wine, but you get the herbal kick in the back of the throat from the cannabis.”.
The process of making the wine tincture is also superior to grain tinctures because it’s not heated, it’s just cold-pressed, so the slow process of extraction reacts differently in your body. The TCH in the cannabis isn’t activated in the same way as it is in edibles and tinctures that are heated. It’s slower, longer lasting, and more subtle. You won’t feel the euphoria, it’s more like a full-body and mind happy relaxation.