How to Become a Cannabis Sommelier

How to Become a Cannabis Sommelier

Cannabis experts are in high demand across the cannabis industry. “Cannasseurs” can gain experience over time or enroll in online and on-site programs to learn the art of evaluating high quality cannabis. Cannabis sommeliers possess skills that dispensaries, farms and laboratories require in their day-to-day operations. Becoming a cannabis sommelier isn’t easy. You must be able to differentiate between unique aromas and tastes and be able to communicate that information with consumers. The most important characteristic you need to become a cannabis expert, however, is a passion for the plant.

What is a Cannabis Sommelier?

Cannabis sommelier is an unofficial term for a budtender, grower, or any other cannabis professional that has a mastery of the product. These weed experts are fountains of knowledge about aromatic profiles of strains, which food and drinks taste better with which strain, and so much more. Like a wine sommelier, a cannabis sommelier understands the history of cannabis, best growing practices, the difference between strains, and the effects of each strain. Cannabis sommeliers can also identify pests, mold, and other cannabis diseases that make flower unsafe to consume.

Where to Find Cannabis Classes?

With the rapid growth of the cannabis industry, cannabis education is essential. Educational institutions like Cultivating Spirits and Trichome Institute offer award-winning and original classes, workshops, tours, dinners, and certifications to educate consumers and professionals. These companies teach consumers how to differentiate between cannabis flavors using a concept known as interpening. Through olfactory and visual workshops, students can deep dive into the anatomy and structure of different strains to determine the effect it can have on consumers.

What is Interpening?

“Interpening” was coined by Max Montrose, co-founder of the Trichome Institute, as a catchy way to shorten the phrase “interpreting terpenes.” Terpenes are the aromatic oils that give off a wide array of unique scents from a pungent skunk smell to fruity aromas. Professionals that have mastered interpening can identify the types of terpenes present in cannabis flower simply by smelling it. Cannabis sommeliers also understand the psychotropic effects associated with each terpene and can perform quality inspection to identify and evaluate high quality flower.

Similarities between cannabis and wine

There are many similarities between cannabis sommeliers and wine sommeliers, though we agree that wine somms have it harder. How can you possibly guess the vintage of a bud, let alone distinguish region?! That aspect is impossble, though if all bud were outdoor grown exclusively, it might be easier for people to detect which region a particul flower came from. The challenge of detecting the smells are so very similar to what wine somms do. Arthur Heine of Dutch company Sensunique considers himself of the sort, and with his events company he's helping educate people on those similarities between wine and the terpenes of cannabis. They do pairings and tastings with imported wines and they vape high terpene profile strains to motivate the senses, hence the name! 

Specialized cannabis experts can help guide consumer experience across a variety of settings including food and drink tasting, dispensaries, and breeding operations. While the term is unofficial, the “cannabis sommelier” profession is on the rise with the advent of cannabis lounges, coffee shops, and entire cities in the near future.

*Photo by Jean Haasbroek