Wine & Pot..What’s the difference?

CaniHave you ever wondered if all the talk, debate, careful swirling, sniffing, sipping and the following ratings and reviews of wine is really just about justifying an excessive "love of of the buzz"? A way of putting an intellectual cover on regular intoxication?

I think a lot of people who see wine geeks do things things and talk the way we do have this suspicion about us. I know I had the same suspicion when I read an article in Canada’s MacLeans magazine by Julia Mckinnell entitled, "The Cannabis Connoisseur".

Being a swirler and a sniffer I’m willing to indulge the idea that there is a small cadre of pot connoisseurs concerned with the aroma, taste and character of the "high" that different strains of pot embody. I’m particularly interested in this last element of a weed’s character: the high.

One thing you NEVER hear a wine critic or reviewer discuss is the kind of buzz that different wines deliver when drunk in excess. There can be only two reasons for this. 1) it’s of no concern to critics or 2) it hides the pedestrian idea that part of our love for wine is the buzz.

You’ll never read anything like the following in a discussion of wine or wine connoisseurship:

Chris Bennett is a Vancouver-based producer at
Pot TV and an expert on the history of cannabis. Not only can Bennett
differentiate by scent pot strains such as Blueberry and Timewarp, he
has a very particular preference for the type of buzz he’s after. And
we’re not talking potency here…No, what Bennett cares about is whether the buzz causes a "high" or a
"stone": two very different things. Bennett describes a "high" as a
"bubbly situation brewing up with lots of thoughts and ideas," and in
general arrived at by smoking the cannabis subspecies sativa.
"A good working daytime thing," says Bennett. This, as opposed to a
"stone," a more "meditative, focused, stiller mind," most often
achieved by smoking the subspecies indica. Bennett prefers to
get stoned. More specifically, he likes a strain of stone-inducing pot
known as God Bud, which, incidentally, did Canada proud at last year’s
17th annual world Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam, where in years past
Bennett has acted as a celebrity judge in the category of hash."

Now, I know that drinking a 15.8% alcohol cab is going to get me buzzed faster than drinking a 9% alcohol German Riesling. What I don’t know is if there are varying types of alcohol that deliver a different "type" of buzz. But I can tell you this: I’d like to know that. (Perhaps some chemistry pros in the audience can explain.)

We talk a lot about "terroir" in this business as a way of addressing the "mystery of wine". Many of us see the transference of character from soil and vineyard to the wine as a near mystical occurrence grounded in science. (And it turns out that pot connoisseurs discuss the same thing.) However, because it is not discussed much, wine drinkers tend to forget that the one important element of the "magic" of wine is in its intoxicating potential. If you’ve never experienced this aspect of wine, well, you just aren’t a real wine drinker. There is a purity and honesty I admit to appreciating in the way a "pot connoisseur" discusses the "quality ands character" of their high. Perhaps there is room for incorporating this same quality into wine reviews.

Posted In: Rating Wine


5 Responses

  1. Brad Warbiany - November 7, 2005

    I could see there being a difference. I know that I tend to get different buzzes from drinking beer, wine, gin, rum, vodka, etc. I’m not sure if there is more to the story than just different types of alcohol. I.e. with mixed drinks, mixing with coke vs. tonic when drinking rum or gin may have an effect, as the coke will have sugar and caffeine. Beer is different because the low alcohol content makes you feel more full, and I’m sure wine has it’s own quirks.
    So whether different wines give you different buzzes is debateable, but I think different alcohols certainly do. To think that there might be differences, particularly between red and white wine, might be plausible as well.

  2. Tyler Simons - November 7, 2005

    Interesting question. I feel like I’ve been sillier the times I’ve drunk beaujolais, but the sample size is small. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if it’s true — isn’t red wine supposed to give nastier hangovers? Then again, much of the character of the buzz comes from the situation and one’s own expectations.
    As far as comparisons between wine and pot culture go, there are a few. The increased use of selective breeding, (or whatever the appropriate botanical term would be) 24 hour UV light exposure, and elaborate indoor grow rooms are developments in marijuana culture the way new world wine science, with its oak chips, cultured yeasts, etc. has changed the wine world. I’d guess that nobody who’s smoking the stuff Chris Bennett is would be pining for the good old days of brown, dry mexican schwag the way some French and Germans might be.
    I’d guess that, if such statistics were available the number of people like Bennett would prove to be hard to describe as a “small cadre.” Who really knows, though?

  3. johng - November 8, 2005

    Maybe it’s just the aging kid in me, but there’s nothing like a beer buzz – that mild euphoria you get halfway through the first Sierra Nevada while you tend the grill or just stare toward the horizon. The bad news is that you can’t get that feeling back no matter how many more you drink.
    Slightly off topic, but I thought that the reason “Sideways” was horrible PR for wine was that Miles, the first wine geek many viewers had ever met, in real life or on screen, was clearly somebody who belonged not in a tasting room but in a 12 step program.
    (btw thanks for the very kind words)

  4. Jim Eastman - November 27, 2005

    I think the problem with categorizing or otherwise describing a buzz is that it’s going to be both very personal and very situational. I certainly notice distinct buzzes between different types of alcohol, but I find that a buzz is more determined by my situation: how much and what I’ve had to eat, how stressed I am, what activity I’m engaged in while drinking, etc. Also, my body reacts differently to alcohol than others might, and as such, the buzz I feel from something might be completely different from the buzz somebody else feels from the same thing.

  5. Ryan - March 7, 2006

    In terms of alcohol consumption and the buzz that occurs, I totally agree with the person who mentions sample size. Unless we have personally felt the same buzz from the same drink time after time until we can run a significance test vs other alcohols at that same sample size, have we really found a distinct difference, or just a difference that we believe we enjoy. I am currently feeling “it” from bombay gin, while yesterday I was drunk with tequila and vodka. Yes, I understand that mixing alcohols will skew results, but to be honest, as much as I want to believe that different alcohols give different effects, I honestly believe that it is your current situation in life, and not the alcohol, that will give you a different buzz. Please let me know what you think of this suggestion.

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