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DON’T SMOKE THE MESSENGER: Tannins and Terpenes

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Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 10.41.49 AMBe it wine or weed, some people go for the cheap stuff. But there are still plenty of us snobs out there. For every wine connoisseur who delights in the jammy, blackberry nose on their 2011 Tempranillo from RoxyAnn Winery in Medford, there is a weed connoisseur who will happily stick their face into a turkey bag full of Tangie from Essence Farms in the Applegate Valley to fill their olfactory with the bright citrus pop of clementines.  

The worlds of wine and weed are not so dissimilar. Southern Oregon just happens to be a prime region for growing each of these fine crops. Empty hillsides and old orchards are rapidly being turned into vineyards, and almost even faster, tall wooden fences and visual screens are popping up all around the valley, trying to hide the large outdoor marijuana plants from view. 

Just like wine, the terroir plays a large part in the quality and flavor of the finished product. The mineral and nutrients in the soil, the water that is used, and the weather all play a large role in the flavors and potencies. Similarly, the care the plants are given in life, as well as how well they are cured once harvested play a huge roll in the potency and flavor. 

As the tannins bring the color and flavor to wine, terpenes are responsible for the many flavors that can be found in cannabis. Terpenes are unsaturated hydrocarbons that are found in the essential oils of many plants. They are responsible for the way lemons smell, and for the way that a lemon peel can be used to clean bad smells away. Be it blueberry or diesel, that smell is the terpenes. 

Like the cannabinoids in marijuana- THC and CBD for example, terpenes bind to receptors in the brain, each terpene with different effects. For example, the terpene Limonene that gives off the bright, citrusy smell in the coveted Tangie strain has also been shown to elevate moods and relive stress, and has anti fungal and bacterial properties. Another terpene, Pinene, studies have shown it to be a bronchodilator (better air flow in the lungs), and it may even help counter the infamous short-term memory loss brought on by THC. 

Some cannabis extraction process, like the oil in CO2 pens, strip the terpenes from the products, so producers have found ways to add the terpenes from cannabis and other plants back in so that the therapeutic effects of the terpenes is not lost, or so it just tastes good. 

Ready to try a pairing? A bright and fruity local Viognier will pair well with Lemon Kush, or for a richer flavor, try a Rogue Valley Cab Franc with a rich Purple Kush. Happy tastings!

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