December 11, 2018

Winnipeg
-13° C, Partly cloudy

Full Forecast

Perfect your pot palate

Manitoba's first cannabis sommelier hopes to help new users find the right high

The word “sommelier” brings to mind upscale restaurants and carefully curated wine lists, presented by a knowledgeable (albeit sometimes intimidating) individual who helps guide diners to that perfect pairing for their chosen dish.

Their knowledge of the wine’s origins, as well as the smell, taste and body of the wine, learned over years, help to enhance the overall dining experience.

And while you shouldn’t expect a cannabis sommelier offering a carefully curated tableside list of weed anytime soon, Manitoba’s first cannabis sommelier hopes to steer your pot palate towards some of the best buds available.

Joel Carleton’s interest in cannabis grew out of his extensive background in mixology, which led him to an interest in botany and horticulture, even leading him to forage for his own herbs and other ingredients for his cocktails.

Get the full story.
No credit card required. Cancel anytime.

Join free for 30 days

After that, pay as little as $0.99 per month for the best local news coverage in Manitoba.

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Join free for 30 days

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 30 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Mon to Sat Delivery

Pay

$34.36

per month

  • Includes all benefits of All Access Digital
  • 6-day delivery of our award-winning newspaper
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

The word "sommelier" brings to mind upscale restaurants and carefully curated wine lists, presented by a knowledgeable (albeit sometimes intimidating) individual who helps guide diners to that perfect pairing for their chosen dish.

Their knowledge of the wine’s origins, as well as the smell, taste and body of the wine, learned over years, help to enhance the overall dining experience.

And while you shouldn’t expect a cannabis sommelier offering a carefully curated tableside list of weed anytime soon, Manitoba’s first cannabis sommelier hopes to steer your pot palate towards some of the best buds available.

Joel Carleton’s interest in cannabis grew out of his extensive background in mixology, which led him to an interest in botany and horticulture, even leading him to forage for his own herbs and other ingredients for his cocktails.

Joel Carleton wants to consult and engage with consumers, offering presentations and education as well as using his Instagram account to offer reviews that cover everything from the appearance to the effects of different strains of cannabis. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

Joel Carleton wants to consult and engage with consumers, offering presentations and education as well as using his Instagram account to offer reviews that cover everything from the appearance to the effects of different strains of cannabis. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

He developed the Canada Comfort website (canadacomfort.net) and Instagram account (@canadacomfort) in the hopes of offering information about his cannabis-related services, as well as reviews of various products once marijuana is legalized on Oct. 17.

Under that banner Carleton expects to consult and engage with consumers, offering presentations and education as well as using his Instagram account to offer reviews that cover everything from the appearance to the effects of different strains of cannabis.

"I want to develop a document that’s a grading schema — smell, visuals, trichome (the sticky, crystal-like growths on cannabis leaves), pistil examination (the sex organ of the female cannabis plant) and my observations."

Carleton recently returned from Los Angeles, where he completed the Level 1 Introductory Interpening Course at the Trichome Institute.

The course features an intensive four-hour lecture on the nuts and bolts of cannabis, followed by an exam. The institute also offers a Level 2 Certified Interpener Course as well as an invitation-only Level 3 Advanced Interpener Course.

Interpreting terpenes refers to the close examination of cannabis plants, looking at everything from bud structure to the prevalence of glandular trichomes. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

Interpreting terpenes refers to the close examination of cannabis plants, looking at everything from bud structure to the prevalence of glandular trichomes. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

"The course had a surprising amount of content: it was terroir, appellation, land race, genetic origins and Cannabis 101," says Carleton, sitting counterside at Cannafam, a Henderson Highway shop that offers cannabis clinics, consultations, accessories and more. "Roughly half of the class was growers."

Interpreting terpenes (dubbed "interpening") refers to the close examination of cannabis plants, looking at everything from bud structure to leaf width to aromatic profile to the prevalence of glandular trichomes. "These things actually impact the consumer experience more than percentages of THC (tetrahydrocannabiniol, the primary component of cannabis that gets you high)," Carleton explains.

For a trained eye like Carleton’s, visually examining the structure of the bud and where it falls on the spectrum of leaf width offers plenty of information long before there’s even a thought of lighting up. The condition of the bud can also reveal whether the plant might have been harvested too early and whether it has been over-handled, which results in the loss of terpenes (essential oils) from the bud’s surface and impacts its aroma, flavour and euphoric capabilities.

But not all is visible with the naked eye. The base of the head of your bud’s glandular trichomes houses the bulk of the THC, which delivers the euphoric effect of cannabis. An interpener like Carleton examines the ratio of glandular trichomes to others, as well as their overall condition, using a loupe similar to those used by jewelers when examining gems.

"There are six or seven trichome styles or structures that exist on a plant. If a plant has been struggling with bugs, it’s got fewer glandular trichomes, it will have more spikes and less of the heads. The heads of the glandular trichomes can also get wrecked when there’s lots of friction from being over-handled."

Carleton recently completed the Level 1 Introductory Interpening Course at the Trichome Institute in Los Angeles. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

Carleton recently completed the Level 1 Introductory Interpening Course at the Trichome Institute in Los Angeles. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

Different strains of cannabis also create different aromas, which hit different areas of our olfactory senses. "I was so skeptical — I had to turn on my beer/wine/spirits/cocktail nose, and when I did I started to find the differences," says Carleton. "The terpenes, those organic oils, they’re everywhere. They can be found in lemons, black peppercorns, all over the plant world… there are a half-dozen terpenes that have been identified in cannabis."

Carleton expects his role as cannabis sommelier (he’s not a "budtender" — those are the folks who work at the retail level at cannabis dispensaries and stores) will expand and evolve once legalization takes place and users develop preferences for certain flavours and euphoric effects.

"It’s only a matter of time until people need this kind of thing," he says. "One of the most important things for consumers is going to be connecting with quality, accurate information and reviews on cannabis."

He heads to Toronto later this month to attend additional cannabis courses.

"I’m still just starting out," he says. "I wouldn’t say I’m an expert or a full-fledged sommelier yet… it takes time."

ben.macphee-sigurdson@freepress.mb.ca

Joel Carleton inspects everything about the condition of the bud, which can reveal whether the plant might have been harvested too early and whether it has been over-handled, resulting in the loss of essential oils from the bud’s surface. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

Joel Carleton inspects everything about the condition of the bud, which can reveal whether the plant might have been harvested too early and whether it has been over-handled, resulting in the loss of essential oils from the bud’s surface. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson

Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson
Literary editor, drinks writer

Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson edits the Free Press books section, and also writes about wine, beer and spirits.

Read full biography

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective January 2015.