Hemp From Seed to Sale: The Importance of a Cannabis Sommelier

Jose Dominguez

When you hear the term “sommelier,” you probably think of someone in a fancy suit, swirling and sipping a glass of fine wine. While that might be what a wine sommelier usually does, a new trend has been growing — that of the cannabis sommelier.

A cannabis sommelier, or “cannasseur,” is useful at every point of the cannabis production process to ensure you have high-quality cannabis and hemp extracts. Much like a wine sommelier, a cannabis and hemp sommelier has knowledge of the history of cannabis from seed to shelf, growing practices, differences in strains, impurities, and more. From ensuring wholesale buyer-seller satisfaction to “budtending” in retail stores, a sommelier can help evaluate the selling potential or possible added value of a particular strain, lot, producer, concentration, etc.

This role may sound frivolous, but a sommelier is extremely important for companies selling cannabis or using its extracts in their products. Neptune Wellness Solutions’ sommelier, José Dominguez, is involved in every aspect of our sustainable cannabis extraction process.

It seems like new genetic makeups, names, products, formulations, and technologies pop up every day. This rapid change has caused the market to become increasingly competitive.

Having a sommelier like José at Neptune allows us to create the high-quality cannabis and hemp extracts that consumers want. After all, quality proves itself — and consumers will always be attracted to products that look, smell, and taste great while providing an enjoyable and reliable experience after every use.

The Life of a Cannabis Sommelier

Until about 2018, when Canada legalized cannabis for recreational use, the title “cannabis sommelier” was not well known or understood. After that shift, though, retail stores, suppliers, wholesalers, and product manufacturers wanted people who have in-depth knowledge of cannabis from seed to sale.

Many people who work as cannabis sommeliers come from pre-legalization industries (e.g., legal medical cannabis, dispensaries, etc.) and therefore have extensive experience in the area. For example, José spent years working to grow and phenotype medical cannabis.

While there is no official certification process, cannabis and hemp sommeliers share some common skills. Every sommelier must understand how a quality cannabis product looks, smells, and tastes — down to the strain. More than that, good sommeliers can put themselves in consumers’ shoes to find the perfect products. Cannabis effect, taste, potency, and enjoyment can all vary based on user preferences. That said, there will always be products, formulations, or flavors that appeal to a wide swath of consumers — and the sommelier’s reputation will hinge on identifying those.

Another important area of knowledge for sommeliers is health and harm reduction. Just like alcohol, cannabis can be enjoyable — but it’s also relatively easy to abuse. Sommeliers must educate themselves so they can inform consumers on how to enjoy high-quality cannabis extracts safely.

Despite their importance in determining the value of cannabis from seed to sale, there is still a lot of stigma surrounding the sommelier role. Many people assume cannasseurs are high all the time, but that’s not the case. After all, wine sommeliers rarely drink wine around the clock. And as any sommeliers worth their salt will tell you, education and moderation are key when it comes to cannabis products.

As the cannabis market continues to grow and change, it’s essential to have people like José driving sustainable cannabis and hemp extraction companies forward. They will make all the difference in ensuring any cannabis products are top of the line.