Non-alcoholic wine has evolved far past grape juice to be sipped with a pinky out. The growing category now offers complex and full-bodied beverages, some with an intoxicating twist: etrahydrocannabinol (THC), the principle psychoactive component of cannabis.
With important vinous elements like aromatic compounds, the only thing missing would be the intoxifying element, which is where cannabis comes in.
But how does it get there?
Rebel Coast uses technology that encapsulates the cannabinoids in a substance that allows them to be emulsified with water, says CEO and Cofounder Josh Lizotte.
Improved alcohol-removal technology paved the way for weed-spiked wine.
“This process has three key benefits: It makes the THC act water soluble, dramatically increases the bioavailability and absorption rate, giving about a 15- to 20-minute onset time, and it does not fall out of solution,” he says.
Wines made by Rebel Coast offer about 10 milligrams (mg) of THC per glass. In states like Colorado and California, where cannabis is legal and regulated, that’s akin to “a single serving.”
House of Saka uses nanoemulsion technology, which is similar to Rebel Coast’s approach but with smaller particles, to add about 5 mg THC per glass to bottlings like Sparkling Pink, which mixes Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay grapes.
“What [nanoemulsion does] is stabilizing what you’d call a droplet,” says BevZero’s Silverstein. “It’s a mixture of THC in the different [substances] that stabilize in water to such small sizes…they’re actually absorbed sublingually under your tongue.”
The process makes cannabinoids “highly bioavailable and absorbed into your system immediately,” says Cynthia Salarizadeh, House of Saka’s founder and president, in contrast to the typical two-hour window that edibles can take. This gives the beverages near-instant effects, fitting for individuals who might avoid or cut back on alcohol but still seek a slightly altered effect. For those canna-curious folks who are new to the herb, instantaneous effects can also help them understand their personal dosing.
Additionally, if you find yourself a little too elevated, these drinks “leave your system more quickly, which also makes it more sessionable,” says Salarizadeh.