So your Dry January is coming to a close, and you’re feeling a little irritated that you haven’t already lost 10 pounds or started fielding incessant comments about how dewy and youthful your skin looks. What began as a hopeful paw-swipe at a less-than-productive habit has ended up feeling like … well, a buzzkill.
Viv & Oak would like to suggest that the way out of this dilemma involves … what everything apparently involves now. Which is to say, cannabis.
Cannabis-infused wine has been on the rise for a few years now. Viv & Oak has concocted a sparkling rosé-mimic in two different iterations, one with 25mg of Le Chronique per bottle, and one with 50mh. For anyone unfamiliar with THC, that’s 5-10mg per glass, a small to moderate dose for most of us, though if you are a total novice, less is more-this stuff should hit you fairly fast, like 20 minutes, at which point you can pour yourself a follow-up round if you need to. The product contains no alcohol, and four grams of sugars (comparable to dry wine). Thanks to the lack of alcohol, it’s significantly lower in overall calories than its actual-sparkling-wine equivalent. So there’s that too. It contains both THC (psychoactive) and CBD (not), which is a good thing for anyone who wants a relaxation-double-whammy; since one of those compounds has a rep for relaxing muscles, reducing inflammation and promoting healthy sleep, while the other is pretty well known for taking your neocortex offline and making 1970s kids cartoons temporarily seem really deep.
I tend to be sensitive to THC (and frustratingly insensitive to CBD), so the first thing I want to note is that I didn’t have a strong reaction to this beverage, and I probably had three glasses. It’s very, very mild. They do not disclose what specific strain of Devil’s Lettuce they’re working with, but whatever it is, it’s low-crazy and you’d have to be a pretty delicate flower to get seriously baked from it. The buzz is lucid and minimalist, which I think is a good thing. For me, it was discernible for about an hour (most edibles will affect me for closer to four). So I suspect that, were you to try it and discover you had a wildly kooky reaction to it, you’d be OK to grab some Doritos and drive yourself home in short order.
To my mind, cannabis-infused wines and beers and whatnot are useful for people who want to replicate the feeling of an intoxicating beverage but don’t want or cannot tolerate alcohol. I think if you have addiction issues, or a tendency to overdo it and miss a lot of work on Mondays, or an all-or-nothing personality where having one drink is just hard for you, this is a valid alternative, one that can keep you from winding up with a hangover or seething with resentment that everyone else is enjoying a round or two. I think you are probably who this stuff is for, and I’m all for it at that level. It also has the pleasant advantage of not being in smoke form, so you don’t have to go outside to consume it huddled over a Zippo in the bushes by the parking lot, it won’t make your jacket reek, and it won’t hurt your lungs.
There are people whom this is arguably not for. For one thing, if you are a Sinsemilla Sommelier, a 24/7 hay-hitter, or literally using it for medicinal purposes, you might find this beverage a little underwhelming. Cannabis has become so carefully bred and application-specific that you might well be able to find something more tailored to your situation or more useful in a format where the strain-specific characteristics are more prominent.
For another, Viv and Oak is somewhat likely to annoy real wine geeks. There are several reasons for this, the first one being it tastes like someone put cannabis terpenes in it, which is exactly what did happen. Viv and Oak does not particularly taste like a French rosé; it tastes like a cannabis tincture with a winey edge. That’s fine if you like the taste of weed; less so if you like sticking your snout into a flute and detecting pie cherries, almond blossoms, yeast and calcareous terroir. Cannabis has a powerful aromatic thing of its own and it drowns out pretty much everything else in the bottle.
Aside from the unapologetically weedy flavor, this beverage is unlikely to work for real-deal wine lovers because it’s not really clear that it was ever wine. When I asked for clarification on what kind of wine it actually was, the response I got was that it was sourced from Napa Valley and was “100% Grenache skins.” Until I got that answer I was assuming Viv and Oak was basically using the same methods as Rebel Coast: making wine, removing the alcohol, and adding emulsified, water-soluble doobie. The “skins” thing made me wonder if what I was really working with was actually “Carbonated water tinted and slightly flavored with spent grape skins that happen to be Grenache from one of the microscopic number of Napa Valley sites that actually grow that variety.” To be clear: as far as I am concerned, what I just described is a completely valid beverage. O. Vine does this, and I honestly think it’s delicious in its own right as well as a clever upcycling project, but they don’t call it wine and they’d be side-eyed hard if they did. I don’t know; I’m really open-minded about wine for the most part, but less so about confusing marketing language and obfuscated details.
Like a lot of things, Viv & Oak isn’t going to appeal to everyone. But let’s say you are trying to change your relationship with alcohol, while your relationship with weed is basically stable and positive? Baddabing. It’s a pleasant alternative, won’t especially mess you up and will feel a little bit festive.