Features The Katchup

Everyday Foods That Are Commonly Faked And Mislabeled

Meet the food playing the food, disguised as another food.

If you’ve ever been skeptical about brands being a bit deceitful in the food they sell you, there’s good reason for it, as there’s a little something called “food fraud,” and it happens in the most unusual of instances.

Dr. Rosalee Hellberg, a food fraud expert, spoke in depth about mislabeled products on The Foodbeast Katchup Podcast, rattling off food after food that you’ve probably had in your kitchen cabinet.

Dr. Hellberg and her team at Chapman University have dedicated their lives to researching fraudulent food, identifying the specific genes within different foods, and ultimately discovering sketchy practices within the industry.

While some companies have been publicly exposed and corrected the course, food fraud is easy to repeat, and has been a problem for hundreds of years.

Here are the foods, and some fraudulent examples that will leave you walking around the grocery store with constant doubt.



“Pepper is really interesting ’cause it has a really long history of fraud,” Dr. Hellberg said. “Even dating back to Roman times, there are instances of… fraudulent pepper being sold.”

While you’d think pepper would get its act together over the last 600 years, fraudulent practices still occur today. From adding dirt, to dried juniper berries, pepper manufacturers still try to get that weight up on the cheap. If you ever feel your lemon-pepper shrimp tastes like dirt, now you know why.


Honey is the third most faked food in the world, according to New York Times best selling book, Real Food, Fake Food.

Dr. Hellberg said that with honey, a lot of times, sugars will be mixed in, so you’re not actually getting the 100 percent honey that’s put on the label.

If you’re in the loop with bees being wiped out at a rapid pace, this one may or may not be that surprising to you.


“With wine there’s a lot of possibilities for fraud,” Dr. Hellberg said. “Some of the most common are mixing finished wines. You take one type of wine, another type of wine and mix them together.”

This one’s crazy because unless you’re a professional wine taster, how can you even tell they’re being mixed? Dr. Hellberg suggested the best we can do to avoid this, is to get to know the source, find their ethos, and go with wineries with good reputations. You can even ask if they’re actually doing anything to prevent wine fraud. While this form of fraud won’t hurt you, it might hurt your wallet if you’re paying for a premium wine and not actually getting it.



“With chocolate, one of the main things I found was counterfeit chocolate,” Hellberg said. “People are taking substandard chocolate and putting it under a fake label of a chocolate brand that’s well recognized.”

One widely publicized occurrence of this type of mixing came from the Mast Brothers’ chocolate, which was accused of using melted chocolate from Valrhona chocolates, and selling them for $10 a pop. This type of chocolate fraud is common globally, according to Hellberg.


“…In Italy, fraudsters were taking olives, and typically the substandard olives that are discolored, they were soaking them in a copper sulfate solution, which gives them a nice bright green color. Hellberg said. “They’re called, ‘Painted Olives.’ If you’re eating copper, you’re going to have some health problems.”

This happened in 2016, and Italian police seized 85,000 tons of those green olives. Believe it or not, this type of olive fraud is pretty common, so keep a close eye on your olives.

Olive Oil

Like a few other things on this list, olive oils have been found to be mixed with lower quality olive oils. In 2016, it was reported that 80 percent of the Italian olive oil sold in markets is fraudulent.

“If you see something that’s out of wack, that doesn’t look right on the label, or the price doesn’t match, that’s usually a good indicator that it might be a fraudulent product,” Dr. Hellberg said.

While a lot of Italian olive oils are mislabeled, our own resident food scientist Constantine Spyrou argues that getting Spanish olive oils that are labeled “Italian” isn’t really a downgrade.


One of the most common forms of sushi fraud comes from the ol’ red snapper. It seems that every time researchers dig into the fish, regardless of year, or location, the fish has been faked.

It’s so bad, that you’ve probably never truly tasted real red snapper.

“Most of the time studies have found it’s not red snapper,” Dr. Hellberg said. “We actually just completed a study in my lab… and again, ‘red snapper’ was not red snapper.”

We can even take it one step further, as in 2017, a study showed that almost half the sushi in Los Angeles is mislabeled. From halibut to flounder, there’s a good chance Angelenos are not actually getting the sushi they ordered.

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Disney’s Sparkling Blue Wine Might Be Their Most Photogenic Drink Yet

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If the booze I drank at home were half as photogenic as the ones the Imagineers at Disney come up with, I’d probably post more photos. With wine on the mind, one of Disney World’s latest alcoholic innovations comes in the form of a Sparkling Blue Wine.

Available at Amorette’s Patisserie in Disney Springs, the stunning blue beverage is a prime example of the decadence that can only come from the Mouse King himself.

The bubbling beverage is garnished with a white chocolate Minnie Mouse topper that’s covered in a luminous dust.

Super fancy.

What catches my attention most about this drink is how few bells and whistles it carries. It’s minimalistic, but exudes elegance from the two components it offers — the vibrant color and topper.

A pink version of the beverage is also available at Amorette’s, but that one kind of just looks like regular wine. Gimme that blue sparkle.

You can find the dazzling item at Disney Springs, located just outside of Walt Disney World in Florida.

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A Newbie’s Guide To Decoding Douchey Wine Speak

Tennis ball. Rubber hose. Firewood. Fresh almonds. Clearly I’m about to go on a Walmart run, right? Not so much. What I listed were actual tasting notes wine connoisseurs and Sommeliers have actually used to describe what they’re tasting and smelling in wines. And for many of those that are on the outside looking in, wine culture itself and the nuances within appreciating wine are about as oddball as thinking that whatever you’re about to drink smells of asphalt and tastes of burnt toast — then considering such as a good thing.

To help us unravel the madcap world of wines and the cryptic and confusing language that comes along with it, I spoke with Coly Den Haan, a certified Sommelier and owner of female-driven wine shop, Vinovore, in Los Angeles, California.

For Den Haan, appreciating wine doesn’t have to include all the pomp and pretentiousness that it’s infamous for. The fact that she’s describing wines in her shop as “funky and rad like your favorite character actor,” “horse butt,” and “like driving a raspberry-colored convertible Fiat through the Italian Alps with the top down and your top off,” should be enough to cement her stance. Trust, we’re in good hands, friends. A newbie such as myself had plenty to learn in taking the douchey-ness out of wine culture.


Den Haan admits all that obnoxious wine swishing and shoving of one’s nose into the glass is still a bit necessary when it comes to tasting wine. They’re tools, she insists, to “awaken the wine in your glass.”

“If you want to do it in a corner so you don’t look like an asshole, with all the big sniffs and snorting or whatever, do it in a closed room. If you take a minute, and just be like, ‘Oh I do get fruit. Oh what kind of fruit,” your brain, kind of associates with those aromatics. It just becomes more of a second nature. That’s how people start blind tasting because they’ve trained their brain and they can start deducing.

When you’re swirling, what you’re doing is adding oxygen to that wine. That wine has been sitting in a bottle for however long — a year, 5 years, 20 years — so when you let it out, think of it like, stretching its arms. All that really is doing is adding oxygen to the wine to let it open up. So you’re releasing it from its little cage, and you’re giving it fresh air to let it spread its wings.”


A wine’s ‘legs’ are scrutinized by wine lovers to help tell if the booze they’re drinking is up to snuff. “Legs are the drippings that come down in a glass after you swirl. The reason that people evaluate legs is sometimes it gives you a hint on how much alcohol is in the wine, or the viscosity of the wine. So the slower the legs fall, and the closer they are together, it can give you the indication that there’s more alcohol, or it’s been aged longer.

However, Den Haan warns that a wine’s legs and also its price may not be the most reliable ways to gauge quality.

“This isn’t a reliable rule because there are so many things that can happen with the glass itself: What it was cleaned with, if there’s spots, whatever. For price, I always tell people that they don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a really good wine. I feel like, especially with California, people get into this trap and a lot of it is marketing. I won’t name specific brands, but the wine is good, though it’s not worth hundreds of dollars a bottle.”


Varietal is the grape. There’s tens of thousands of different varietals in the world. Cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, these are all grapes. Tannin is what is found in the skin of the grapes. So, what most people don’t realize is that for all grapes, the juice inside is clear. It runs yellowish-clear. What gives the color is the skins and what gives a lot of the texture and aroma is the tannin, the skins. Tannin is only found in the skins and gives that sensation that dries your mouth. So imagine that back of your jaw feeling, that’s dry, really tannic, like chewy sometimes. The bigger the tannic wine, it almost feels like you’re chewing on a piece of stem or wood. For the most part, white wines don’t have tannins because they’re not made with skins. There are few exceptions with skin contact whites, like orange wine, which is kind of a buzzword right now. That would be white wine with skin contact.”

Take note, though, that a wine’s tannic characteristics aren’t the end all, be all when it comes to determining its flavor and personality.

“The counterpart of tannins is acid. So where acid makes your mouth water, tannin dries it up. So, you know, especially with red wine you want that balance. If you have a wine that has a lot of tannins but not enough acid, it’s going to be way too dry. You need that ideal juiciness to dry ratio.”

ALL WINE IS DRY (Except Dessert Wine)

It’s the hardest thing to explain without sounding like a jerk. People come into the shop and they’re like, “Oh, I want a dry rosé.” If I was an asshole, I’d be like, “Um, all rosés are dry.” But, that’s not really the right way to say it. All normal wine is dry unless it’s dessert. What people are confused about is fruitiness, usually. I used rosé as an example because that’s the biggest thing right now.”


For the average person looking to get into wine, pairing them with whatever meal you’re having can be a bit intimidating. Sure, there’s the perceived common knowledge of whites go with seafood and vegetables, and reds go well with meat. However, Coly breaks it down with a little more nuance for us.

“So there are some simple rules you can follow that can help you navigate and pair your food. One that I always like to say is, you can match the cuisine region with the region of the wine. Italy, France, Spain are very easy to do because the wines are there. They’ve been made there for hundreds and hundreds of years to go with that local, indigenous food. Beyond that, you kind of want to match and contrast. So you sometimes want to match flavor profiles, and then have some sort of contrasting element to compliment it, or kind of add some third taste, so to speak. For instance, if you have something really fatty, you’ll want to contrast it with a lot of acid, since you’re going to need that acid to clean up the fat. But if you have something that’s really fruity, with a really earthy dish, I do not suggest that. That’s where you want to kind of align your taste.”

In simpler terms, she states, “Really the food is the main star when you’re pairing. Wine is kind of just the co-star. So, the wine really helps you to cleanse your palate after each bite. That’s why the wine is there. So if it’s doing more or less, it’s not really doing its job.”



“Have you ever smelled a wine where it literally smells like you opened a can of tennis balls? They exist, and it’s crazy and that’s the kind of thing that, yes, I feel like people are very pretentious about in the wine world in general.”

When you hear off the wall sensory notes of “musty blanket” or “new car smell” to describe the aromas and flavors of various wines, does it come off as obnoxious? Or are they just using reference points? Den Haan helps us understand the logic behind such wacky options.

“You know it’s kind of like an umbrella effect. As you learn to taste wine, you start categorizing main categories of what you’re smelling: I smell fruit, I smell minerals. Then from there, what kinds of fruit: Oh, pineapple. Tropical fruit. What kind of tropical fruit? Pineapple, mango, papaya. Essentially, these descriptions are just reference points. So the more you start pulling stuff out of this glass, the crazier and wilder it can get, which I think is fun. Whatever you’re finding in there, there are no rules and that’s what makes it fun. It can come off as pretentious, but it really shouldn’t be because wine is wild and crazy.”


For many daunted by the world of wine and are apprehensive about dipping their toes into the culture, it’s vital to keep in mind that it all really shouldn’t be taken so seriously. It’s just wine, after all, and Coly insists that it should be a fun experience overall.

“It’s supposed to be fun! It’s fucking fine, you know. Jesus, you’re not saving any lives with this shit. You don’t have to be an expert or even care that much about wine to enjoy it. You just have to appreciate your wine and go to your party and have your dinner and go to the pool and whatever.”

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Are You Storing Wine The Right Way?

Red and white wine bottles stacked on wooden racks shot with limited depth of fieldPhoto: Shutterstock/Christian Delbert

Believe it or not, there’s a right and wrong way for storing wine at home. Wine is a delicate thing. Even though we may slosh it around our glasses while we’re enjoying a weeknight dinner, while it’s in the bottle, plenty of things can go amiss and change your delicious vino into vinegar. No thanks. Want the most out of your wine but not planning on drinking it right away? Then do yourself a favor and store it the proper way. Here are the dos and don’t-you-dares of storing wine at home.

1. Chill out.

Temperature fluctuations are wine’s greatest nemesis. At the correct temp, you can leave your wine to slumber for ages until you’re ready to drink it. But if left for extended periods of time in too hot or too cold a room, or worse, left at the mercy of constantly fluctuating temperatures, you’ll be left sipping a glass of disappointment rather than delicious Cabernet (or whatever your wine of choice).

When the mercury creeps up, it can cause anarchy in your carefully curated collection, leading your wine to become “cooked.” Warmer storage temperatures will also speed up the aging process in a pretty dramatic way. So chill out and keep things on the cooler side. At the ideal cool but not too cold temperature, your wine will become more complex, if you choose to age it. Better still, it’ll not go off, if you’re hanging on to it for a later date.

Aim for 50 to 58 degrees Fahrenheit in your wine nook. If you’ll be enjoying a glass of white or rosé with say, a fresh salad, just stick it in the fridge for about twenty minutes prior to serving

2. Save the sun for picnics.

Keep your wine away from the sun. While a healthy dose of sunshine is a must for grapes while they’re on the vine, after wine has been bottled, UV light, like that found in the sun’s rays can cause faults, make it to prematurely age and fade labels (in case you ever want to sell a bottle down the line). Save the sun for picnics and keep your wine in the dark.

3. Stash your wine properly.

If you don’t have a wine cooler or temperature controlled storage space where you can stow your wine, a cool cupboard (not in the kitchen) is a great way to make do. If your basement is free of dampness and mold, it can also serve as a makeshift wine cellar. Attics, hot garages, the top of your fridge or the cabinet above the washing machine are all off limits. In fact, don’t keep your wine in the kitchen unless you do decide to invest in a wine fridge (just keep it away from the dishwasher).

Store bottles on their sides. This keeps the liquid contents in contact with the cork and prevents the cork from drying out and letting in too much air which can lead to oxidation. And once a wine oxidizes, there’s really nothing you can do to save it. Have a few bottles under screw cap? Then no worries, this rule doesn’t apply and you can feel free to store them sideways, upright, whatever you see fit.

4. Keep an eye on the humidity.

Speaking of stopping corks from drying out, I can’t stress the importance of a humid environment enough. If the air in your wine cellar (or fridge, cupboard, closet, etc.) lacks sufficient moisture it, too can cause corks to dry out and wines to oxidize. Pop a humidifier in the room if you’re worried about moisture levels or you can put a small bowl of water in the cupboard with your wines—just don’t forget to refill it from time to time.

5. A final word of advice.

One last thing to add to your checklist: make sure to protect your wine from vibrations. Like light, any kind of prolonged jostling or regular shaking can lead to your wine aging before its time.

If you’re serious about starting up a wine collection, you can look into a proper storage system. But in my honest opinion, most of us average wine drinkers don’t need one. A dark, cool (again, that’s about 50 to 58 degrees) closet or cupboard kitted out with some racks and stays safe from major temperature swings will do just fine.

Follow these tips and you’ll never have to worry about your wine falling flat, whether you’re opening a bottle for tonight’s casserole, next week, or a few years down the line.

Related Links:

Article by Camille Berry from Taste of Home. View the original article here.
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Drinking Wine Could Help Stop Cavities And Gum Disease, Study Suggests

Dentists often advise against consuming alcohol, since the acid inside can do damage to your teeth. However, a new study that touts possible dental health benefits to drinking wine may have some of them backtracking their remarks.

drinking wine

The research, which was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (JAFC), found that antioxidants present in wine helped protect teeth by removing bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease.

The antioxidants, known as polyphenols, work by disrupting the microbes’ ability to adhere to your teeth (aka, form plaque) by up to 40 percent. Thus, these wouldn’t work as a full replacement for brushing your teeth, but could still be big in fighting plaque and oral disease nonetheless.

Anti-adherent effects were shown to be even greater when the wine antioxidants were combined with an oral probiotic, so researchers will definitely be exploring that territory a little bit further.

When it comes to actually drinking wine as a dental health reason, moderation is always encouraged. As for the antioxidants, a potential future pathway researchers may follow is looking at creating toothpastes with the compounds inside of them.

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10 Drinks That Are Guaranteed To Induce A Hangover

Alcohol can be a best friend one night and a sworn enemy the next day. It’s a fickle relationship, to say the least. That sworn enemy part? It comes in the form of a hangover, which will greet you in the morning with the gentle warmth of a sledgehammer to the face.

Now, while there are many variables at play when it comes to a hangover — drinking on an empty stomach, not enough water in the evening, etc — it all comes down to pretty simple reasons. You get hangovers because of things like, sugar, carbonation, and congeners.

Instead of going through the science outright, though, let’s get all hyped up on science by walking it through a few drinks that are sure to do damage to your body.

Red Wine

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Red wine may be a class-act accessory the night before, but it’s an aggressive bully the morning after. Congeners, a fermentation byproduct that strikes up the morning hangover band, contribute to a wine’s color. So the darker a wino goes, the worse they’ll feel. White wine may not always prove its worth as an evening drink, but it’ll keep a drinker’s head from caving in the next day.

Darker Liquors

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Likewise, liquors of a darker shade —  your bourbons, your brandys, your dark rums — are ready to sabotage the morning-after for the same reason, those dang congeners. Bourbon’s actually the fiercest culprit, having the 40 times the quantity of congeners than in vodka.

Cheap Liquor

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Liquor tends to have higher alcohol concentrations than its beer and wine brethren. And the cheaper the spirit, the more congeners. So scooping the cheapest booze is the fastest route to a forced day in bed. Honestly, though, who’s surprised that the most affordable thing at the bar betrays you in the end?


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Why a more lofty drink like champagne ends up as a head pounder always seems to be up for discussion. It’s a go-to celebratory toast drink, but it’ll knock out the brain come sun-up. The reason is it comes down to the fact that it’s jam-packed with bubbles. That carbon dioxide helps get the alcohol into a drinker’s blood stream faster than other kinds of alcohol.

Booze Mixed With Soda or Juice

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This is basically just pouring sugar down the gullet, so it’s no surprise it makes a person feel like hell come morning. The fact that alcohol is involved is doing absolutely nobody any favors — except maybe the tastebuds. Whether it’s whiskey and cola or vodka and orange juice, if the mixer is super sweet, there’s a chance the next day will come with a super headache.

Fruity Colorful Cocktails

This is going to strike the same way soda and juice do, mostly because they may be hiding beneath that tiny umbrella. Anything that has a pretty color to it has a good chance of becoming your frienemy. It’s going to be an entire witch’s brew of booze that then disguises the whole festive monstrosity with sweeteners. Witchcraft, I say!

Booze with Energy Drinks

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Not only are energy drinks major players when it comes to hangovers, but mixing a depressant and a stimulant together is no good for a human being from the start. It basically has the potential to rile a person up to drink more for longer than one’s body would initially agree to. Plus, the sugar content of energy drinks is bonkers to begin with.

Gimmicky Nonsense Shots in a Dive Bar

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This will priority mail your brain a hangover for a number of reasons. It could be a goofball sugary concoction with some innuendo name, it could be the cheapest booze in the house that they hide with sugar, or it’s some maniac pour like a ‘bar mat shot’, which is exactly what it sounds like — all the spilled liquid on the bar, squeezed into a shot glass. This kind of lunacy is best (and hopefully only) limited to a 21st birthday, and even then, like, why?

Long Island Iced Tea

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If anyone orders a drink that at its core is a selection of gin, rum, tequila, vodka, and triple sec — especially one that hides them vixens and villains with sour mix and a splash of cola — it can’t really be that much of a blindside once everything goes haywire. These will deliver a boxer-like hangover because the drinker is simply downing all the booze together in what will surely be an accidental half dozen orders.

Literally Any Drink With ‘Adios’ or ‘Goodbye’ or ‘So Long’ or ‘911’ in the Title

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These kinds of drinks essentially take the spirit of Long Island Iced Teas, but turn it into more direct chaos. Sometimes, they’ll act like it’s a mystery concoction that just randomly showed up one day. This could be anything from a Slushee that’s, like, three-fourths Bacardi 151 to a blue lagoon fishbowl of tequila that looks like someone could swim in it. Anything that hints at a blackout in its name can, will, and should absolutely beat a person up like crazy. This is how you lose an entire weekend.


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This Wine 101 Series of Charts Will Have You Looking Like An Expert [INFOGRAPHIC]

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner or you may have gotten a great bottle as a gift recently. Either way, it’s probably time to hone up on your wine skills. Thankfully, the good folks at Ship It Appliances have got you covered. These handy infographics will outline which food matches with which wine, which glass to use, and will even state why you should have your reds in a fridge.

Choosing the right wine is easier if you’re pairing it with food. Very dry white wines match well with fish and white meat as do rose wines. Sweet white wines and dessert wines match with many cheeses and dessert. A light red wine should be matched with cheese or white meat, while full-bodied reds should generally be paired with red meats.

As for glasses, most people aren’t that picky, but you want to serve wine properly. Reds should be served in a glass with a large bowl so the aromas can be released, while whites, a glass with a smaller bowl, to trap the aromas.

So, how should you hold a wine glass? You don’t want your white to get too warm or vice versa. The best way to hold a wine glass is by the stem. If you hold it by the bowl, your hand will warm the wine.

Wine, like good whiskey, shouldn’t be filled to the brim. White wines should be poured halfway, a glass of sparkling wine should be three quarters full, and a glass of red wine, just a third full.

As a general rule, white wines are served chilled and red wines at room temperature. For sweet and sparkling wines, you should be served much cooler than full-bodied whites. The idea that red wines should be served at room temperature came about before central heating, so that the average home was likely much cooler then than it is today. If you want to ensure your wines are always served at the ideal temperature, it’s well worth investing in a wine cooler.

Finally, both red and white wines vary in sweetness, from the bone dry to the super sweet. Here’s a chart to determine the sweetness of wine.

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Weed Wine: Getting Buzzed Without the Hangover

Edibles? Not quite. Drinkables, more like it. And no, it’s not the nasty bong water your old frat brother convinced you to chug drunk. It’s wine. Pot wine to be more exact.

That’s right. What if I tell you, you can get tipsy without the dreadful hangover the next day? Think of how many Tylenols you can save!

If you’re still skeptical, let me throw out some fancy words for all you wine snobs out there. It’s sauvignon blanc. That citrusy, green-grape white wine from France. A THC-infused sauvignon blanc to be exact.

Okay, to be honest, I pretended I was a wine connoisseur when I visited Napa. But that plan fell through real quick when I twirled my sparkling wine and the sommelier smacked my hand. So I’m not the best person to learn about wine from… Oops.

Anyways, this marijuana creation, a non-alcoholic wine “that smells like weed but tastes like wine,” is the brainchild of a California-based Rebel Coast Winery. Yes, unfortunately it’s non-alcoholic because federal regulation prevents mixing THC with alcohol in products.

Just told Chip what he’s getting for Xmas (plot twist- it’s cannabis wine).

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But each bottle of this cannabis vino holds 16 milligrams of THC, the element responsible for the psychoactive effects of weed. That’s approximately 4 milligrams of THC per glass, a perfectly modest amount to help you get the “nice, euphoric, mild high.”

I wouldn’t want to be mind-blowingly stoned anyways. That high will gift me with a couple extra pounds from the munchies. No. Thank. You.

So do I want to try it? Sure, why not? I’m not getting any younger and my body can’t gracefully bounce back from the hangovers anymore. I hear that Powerball jackpot is $450 million. Got to go now! Time for me to go buy that lottery ticket so I can have a cellar full of THC wine.

Golden State residents can expect shipments as early as January once the recreational sales of marijuana begin.