Basics of cannabis pairing
No matter what you're matching it with, the right cannabis pairing starts with an understanding of cannabis terpenes -- the compounds that occur in varying concentrations to give individual cannabis strains their unique aromas and flavors. Limonene is what gives Lemon Skunk its distinctive zestiness; a high concentration of pinene imparts a foresty flavor profile to Jack Herer. Matching these aroma and flavor profiles with other aromas and flavors that complement or accentuate them is what makes for a great pairing.
If you're a beginner, cannabis strains with high terpene levels are a great place to start; they'll have the most pronounced aromas and flavors, which make them easier to match. Your budtender will be able to guide you toward strains with high levels of terpenes (between 2% and 4% total terpene content is generally considered high).
How best to consume the cannabis? Vaping flower is one of the best options because it lets terpene flavors shine through. Vaping concentrates can be similarly enjoyable, though be aware that concentrated flavor may overwhelm the taste of some chocolates. Smoking a bowl or joint will work too; you'll get less of the strain flavor, which can make pairing harder, but the smoke adds a flavor element of its own that goes well with certain chocolates, especially dark ones.
Cannabis-chocolate pairings to start with
Ready to pair? We recommend picking out three unique types of chocolate (such as white, milk, and dark chocolate, or three dark chocolates from different origins) and three strains with very different flavor profiles (try a bright, citrusy strain, a sweet, fruity strain, and a pungent, skunky strain). When sampling, either take a hit before taking a bite of chocolate, or place a piece of chocolate on your tongue and let it melt for a few seconds before taking the hit as you savor it. Try each strain with each type of chocolate. Which combinations do you like best?
To get started, try these three combinations:
White chocolate and Super Lemon Haze: If it sounds like it would make a delectable dessert (think lemon white chocolate cheesecake), chances are it’ll be a solid pairing. Such is the case with a rich white chocolate plus a pungent Super Lemon Haze; the lemon characteristics cut straight through the rich sweetness of the white chocolate.
Milk chocolate and Marionberry Kush: We matched a 38% milk chocolate with a sweet, juicy Marionberry Kush. Look for a fruity Central American chocolate for this pairing, and pay attention to how it brings out the jammy notes in the strain.
Dark chocolate and Gorilla Glue #4: The pungent diesel aromas of Gorilla Glue #4 added a surprising degree of complexity to a roasty, bitter dark chocolate we tried. An earthy South American chocolate that clocks in around 70% cacao works beautifully for this pairing.
It's important to remember that there are no right or wrong answers in pairing: if you like the combination, then it's a good match. Everyone tastes things differently based on past experiences, personal preferences, and even genetics, so what delights one person may seem lackluster to someone else. The more you sample, the better you'll get at determining what you like -- so what are you waiting for? Get pairing.
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This article was originally published as "The Leafly Guide to Pairing Cannabis and Chocolate." For this and more articles on cannabis news and culture, visit Leafly News.