France is widely known for its grapevines, one of the oldest crops grown by men, with its origins tracing back to the Roman Empire. Wine represents a fundamental cornerstone of French cuisine, and some brands have achieved global popularity. This formidable reputation was built on tight quality control procedures and sparing the term “wine” only for those drinks made 100% from grapes. However, wine lovers from all around the world try blending this earthly delight with new aromas, flavours, and experiences. In this way, the first French wine-based drink with cannabis sees the light of day in Bordeaux, according to Raphaël de Pablo, head of production and creator of this beverage along with a wine company.
This product was labelled as Burdi W (which refers to “Burdigala,” the original name of the region of Bordeaux, and “Weed”). Still, Burdi W is not a wine in the strict sense because it is cannabis-infused and therefore excluded from this category. Burdi W is made by infusing locally sourced “petit verdot” grapes with 250 milligrams of CBD, balancing out cannabis notes with “blackcurrant notes.”
“A relaxing effect is added to the classic effects of alcohol,” explains Raphaël De Pablo, the face of Burdi W. According to him, this wine is set to “defy all traditional standards.”
Burdi W is sold through a crowd-funded platform and, up to March this year, 10,500 bottles were sold at 34 euros each. However, France is not a land of opportunities for this type of beverages. In places such as Canada and California, cannabis products of excellent quality are already available in the market at competitive prices.
Cannabis-infused beverages are a signature product of the legal cannabis industry. In countries where consumption is legal, it is possible to find cannabis-flavoured juice, fizzy drinks, and beer. Hemp-based clothes, accessories, and food are also well-received by cannabis devotees. California is currently leading the industry and it is expected that this state will continue innovating.
California Cannabis-Infused Wine
A wine-based drink found across the whole state of California, sold as white or rosé, each one made from patented sativa or indica strains. These bottles contain four servings of 10 milligrams of THC per glass.
Currently sold in California as sparkling wine and rosé (including a canned version of the sparkling). These wines are made from a blend similar to that of champagne using Napa Valley Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. Each bottle serves five, with 5 milligrams of THC and 1 milligram of CBD per serving.
Already being sold at California dispensaries as red and rosé. Viv & Oak offers two different formulations to fit a broader audience. For beginners, the lower-dose formulation contains five servings with 10 milligrams of THC each. For those who are more experienced, the bottle serves five glasses with 25 milligrams of THC and CBD each.
Although many companies insist on labelling their products as “wine,” denominations of origin and a special care for product identity are deeply rooted in the wine industry. Therefore, when adding CBD, the product is no longer considered “wine” in the eyes of the law, but a “wine-based flavoured beverage.”
Legal hurdles have kept France out of the market, but this problem is now overcome thanks to a decision entered last year by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), declaring France’s CBD prohibition unlawful. As a result, hemp flowers grown in France are being used in production. Legal tensions rose indeed, as only growth and sale of hemp fibre and seeds were authorised under French law.
The rapid expansion of the cannabis market is an indicator for great opportunities within this industry in the incoming years. Actually, according to a report by Prohibition Partners, a cannabis consultancy, the global market for cannabis-based beverages is projected to reach USD 1,820 million by the end of 2020, and USD 5,800 million in 2024.
The challenge is to make industrial advances and, at the same time, introducing comprehensive regulations that depart from those prohibitionist rules keeping millions of users worldwide behind bars.