What Exactly Is A Cannabis Sommelier?

What does a Cannabis Sommelier do, anyway? How do you become one? Here’s the scoop on the growing trade of cannabis connoisseurship.

Oct 10, 2016

Wouldn’t it be awesome to have a job that paid you for your expert cannabis knowledge? You might think that sommeliers belong in the wine industry, but that level of connoisseurship is making its way to the cannabis industry. There are even online and on location programs that teach you the art of judging quality cannabis. But, what is a cannabis sommelier? Here are the details.  

What is a cannabis sommelier?

Sommelier 1 African Americans At Greatest Risk For Cannabis Arrests
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In the cannabis world, there’s a lot of room for connoisseurship. Cannabis competitions have been around for decades, giving growers the opportunity to show off their hard work. Breeders and seed companies continue to develop new strains with dazzling flavors, aromas, and unique effects.

Now, the rising popularity of the herb is taking connoisseurship to new levels. A cannabis sommelier is just like a wine sommelier, only with the herb rather than the beverage.

In the wine industry, an excellent sommelier has a deep understanding of each product. The history, type, region, growth conditions, aging techniques, aromas, flavors, and overall experience are all considered in every wine selection. Everything is judged with delicate precision.

A rising trade

Sommelier 2 African Americans At Greatest Risk For Cannabis Arrests
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A growing number of cannabis sommeliers are developing the same skills. Amsterdam coffee shops and breeding operations have set the stage for connoisseurship, and the changing legal scene across the pond has created opportunity in the U.S. and Canada.

Though many are shy about taking on the title, you can find knowledgeable cannabis sommeliers in dispensaries and breeding operations. Judges at various competitions are selected based on their depth of knowledge and experience with the herb.

Both recreational and medical consumers greatly benefit from the knowledge these experts provide. When you walk into a dispensary, it’s easy to tell whether or not your budtender has a deep understanding of cannabis.

What skills do you need?

Sommelier 3 African Americans At Greatest Risk For Cannabis Arrests
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A true sommelier will have ample experience. They’ll also have a deep knowledge of the origins of each strain, the quality of a specific harvest, and what a consumer can expect from the flower you’re buying.

With the prevalence of testing data and more information on terpenes and cannabinoids, a sommelier will likely be able to detect the distinct flavors and aromas that make strains unique. Here are some of the skills needed by sommeliers:

  • Ability to discern and critique distinct tastes and aromas
  • Knowledge on proper curing, manicuring, preparation, and overall appearance of buds
  • Knowledge on whether or not any specific flower presents the best qualities of the strain (bud structure, trichome density, etc.)
  • Ability to critique and describe the overall experience of the strain
  • Knowledge of the terpenes and cannabinoids present in each strain, and how they influence the overall high
  • Ability to discern quality and critique other cannabis products, like concentrates

How do you become a cannabis sommelier?

Believe it or not, there are training courses available for sommelier hopefuls. Denver’s Trichome Institute offers training and certification classes that can help folks enter into the cannabis industry.

The majority of sommeliers, however, have earned the title through experience. Years of working with the herb or an intense passion for the plant has given them an edge up. They’re able to take the mass of knowledge they’ve collected and use it to help produce and sell top-quality bud.

As the cannabis industry continues to grow, the title of sommelier may be passed on from older enthusiasts to a new generation of budtenders, chefs, growers, and breeders.

As with most consumer industries, cannabis will only become more refined and specialized with time.

Would you become a cannabis sommelier? Share with us on Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.

Oct 10, 2016