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All right, cannabis connoisseurs (aka cannasseurs). Here’s a quiz: Read the list of descriptions below, and see if you can tell which ones apply to cannabis and which ones apply to wine:

  • Ripe fruit
  • Turpentine
  • Blueberries
  • Hay
  • Petroleum
  • Horse manure

If you’re having trouble sorting them out, you’re not alone: All of these descriptors—and many others of even greater obscurity—are regularly used to describe the aroma and flavor of both wine and cannabis.

That shouldn’t be a huge surprise. In a model drawing inspiration from the world of wine, competitive “cannabis cups” have been a mainstay of the international community since their inception nearly 30 years ago. Cannabis strains are judged on a variety of criteria, many of which would not raise an eye in the context of wine tasting.

Dabbing: It’s More Than Just Increased Potency

The rising popularity of dabbing—vaporizing and inhaling highly refined cannabis concentrates off of a heating element—has only intensified the comparison. That’s in part due to the relative clarity of flavor and aromatic characteristics native to the experience of dabbing when compared with smoking.

If we’ve lost you, that’s merely a highly refined way of saying that dabs provide a very focused and strain-specific flavor without the potentially harsh, bitter and burnt overtones often associated with smoking cannabis.

Simply put, dabs are, at their best, a flavorful and heady encapsulation of the flavors and aromas characteristic of either a single cannabis strain or a blend. (Of course, the same sentence could be used to describe wines, replacing “dabs” with “wines” and “cannabis” with “grape.”)

The quality of a dab—or wine—is, of course, dependent upon the quality of care and attention given to the plants as they progress through their life cycle. But in the case of dabs, the journey doesn’t end there: Just as wine isn’t merely fermented grape juice, cannabis concentrates are a further evolution of the plant matter. Care must be taken in choosing methods of extraction and purification, and these choices have a marked effect on the quality of the end product, and thus the experience.

Why Embracing Purity and Chemical Cleanliness Matters

As cannabis moves into the mainstream and consumers move from a culture of secrecy into one of openness and curiosity, producers are taking note. Just as organic and biodynamic practices to some extent penetrated the wine world ahead of the food world, leading-edge cannabis producers have been quick to embrace standards of purity and chemical cleanliness.

As far as we’re concerned, it’s a win-win scenario: Dedicated growers and producers hone and refine their craft, and consumers have access to purer, more stimulating and enjoyable recreational products. Dabbing IS a lot like wine. But perhaps without the hangover.