Will the Wine Industry Survive the Pot and Food Pairing Trend?
“I think in five to 10 years as the laws change, you’ll see many high-end restaurants adopt cannabis programs much like the wine programs they currently offer. After all, allowing patrons to smoke or vaporize cannabis during a meal or before being seated will pique their appetites and encourage increased spending, which creates another large revenue stream for the restaurant industry.”
Elise McDonough, Recipe Columnist,High Times Magazine
Quoted from The Observer
There is something distasteful about the idea that restaurants will serve weed before seating their guests in order to encourage the munchies and larger food orders. But that aside, the more interesting idea is that fine dining restaurants will create “cannabis programs” very similar to the wine programs (wine lists, I think she means) that are ubiquitous at fine restaurants. Yet this is being suggested in a number of recent articles and essays on the subject ranging from Newsweek to High Times.
I think Ms. McDonough is overstating the case. For a number of reasons I think it is highly unlikely that “Weed Lists” and “Food and Weed Pairings” will become anything near as familiar as wine lists and food and wine pairings. However, she is not alone in her brave prediction.
“If you still have a problem with weed in 2016, you need to go bury yourself in a fucking hole. Let’s be real. Cannabis and chefs go hand in hand. Any chef who is afraid of getting involved with cannabis is too involved in themselves….Honestly, dude, weed just makes wine tastes [sic] better. Just like wine, weed has a lot of characteristics that you use the same senses for when you enjoy wine.”
Chef Steven Fretz, Chef/Restaurant Owner
Quoted at Munchies
I think it’s fair to say that just because you use the same senses to experience weed that you use to experience wine, that doesn’t mean weed will enhance the experience of wine (or food). In fact, anyone who smokes cigarettes or cigars will tell you that inhaling smoke of any type is only going to diminish the taste and aroma of any food in which you are hoping to find delight.
There is something else to consider here when discussing the notion of weed and food pairings. One could easily take on a 6-course food and wine pairing and leave the meal without being drunk in the slightest. However, it’s just not possible to do a six course food and pot pairing and not be completely stoned before the meal ever comes to an end. What this means is that when we compare food and wine pairings and food and pot pairings we are talking about two entirely different things. One necessarily includes severely altering your consciousness. The other does not.
The recent interest in the idea of food and pot pairings isn’t complicated. With California about to legalize recreation pot, the herb is about to go much more mainstream than it ever was. But it does so when the vast majority of people, particularly not pot smokers, have a view of pot as a low-end drug of lazy stoners. The increased interest in the Pot industry to show the weed next to fine cuisine is an attempt to take it mainstream; an attempt to make it appear no different from wine. But, of course, it is an entirely different thing than wine.
Personally, I think it’s a pretty interesting strategy and a smart one too. Placing pot on the same pillar as wine and getting respectable chefs to endorse the silly idea of pot and food pairings will in fact alter some people’s view of the drug. Additionally, pot advocates and particularly advocates of legalized pot, have been pushing the narrative that pot and wine are the same thing. Both are drugs. In fact, the pro-legalization campaign has long used wine regulations as a model for how to regulate pot, again using the acceptance of wine as a lever to normalize the idea of pot.
And the fact is, the wine industry does need to worry about its revenue stream in the face of marijuana legalization. Let’s face it, a whole lot of people who drink wine don’t do so because of the rich body, velvety tannins and notes of smoke, cherry and pencil lead. For those who drink wine in order to take the edge off, Pot is going to do the same thing for many. What weed is not going to do, however, is elevate fine cuisine. It may however urge us to eat more fine cuisine.