The joy of cigar smoking has been in America for hundreds of years. What we know as a cigar today, was perfected primarily in Spain. For many years Cuban cigars were America’s favorites, however, after Cuban products were banned in the States, American production and refinement skyrocketed. Those that enjoy cigars have spent much time devoted to the discovery of the perfect pairing of cigars with various foods and beverages. However, when it comes to drinks, the pairing of wine and cigars has yet to be fully developed.
The most common cigar and beverage pairings are with various beers, spirits, and coffees. It seems that wine and cigars are not as easily paired in the right recipe for taste. Some believe the difficultly comes from the acidity that both wine and cigars have on the palate. Taste is subjective and any person who loves wine and loves cigars should experiment with the pairing process.
How to Pair
Before you pair a cigar and wine together, you should know the tastes individually. A great wine may not taste the same with a cigar, and a cigar may not taste the same with different wines. Knowing the tastes alone will give you a standard flavor profile for each. It also helps distinguish what it is that makes the flavors not work in combination. In some cases, it may be the cigar and in others it may be the wine. A great suggestion is to keep a journal. Using a journal allows you to notate the different experiences of the cigars and wines individually; then notate the combinations. These notes will help in planning new pairings. If you never seem to enjoy a red wine with a particular cigar you’ll know in the future to try a white, or maybe sparkling wine?
What to Look For When Pairing
When it comes to any pairing, taste is completely subjective. You may love the acidity brought on by certain wines and cigars more than most. Or you may simply not enjoy a certain paring. So what should you look for when pairing? Enjoy the pairing. Be willing to try new brands, and be willing to be wrong. When it comes to wine, the process of finding your perfect pairing may be a long process. Don’t give up easily if you are a fan of wine and a fan of cigars, your perfect pairing is out there.
Suggestions for Starting
Wines and cigars both have their own environmental factors that produce specific tastes as seen from the history of cigars, so start with your favorite cigar or maybe with your favorite wine. Let’s say you begin with your favorite cigar, and then choose a sparkling, red, white, or fortified wine. If, for example, you already know you generally favor red over any other type of wine, start there. You may taste the pairing and think of a brand that would work better, or realize that a sparkling wine would be perfect. Your journal will be a perfect place to write down these ideas and thoughts.
Still unsure of where to start, here are some suggestions. Traditionally ports have been served with cigars. If you love full bodied cigars, fruity ports tend to work best. Sparkling wines bring out the minerals of the cigars, so try that if it is the mineral taste you crave. Many suggest that sweetness works best with the tobacco flavors; starting with a fruity red such as a zinfandel may be your best bet.
No matter what you’ve read or heard, wine is an excellent pairing with cigars, just seek out your own personal tastes and you can’t go wrong.
Written by Jeff Borysiewicz. Jeff is the president and founder of Corona Cigar Co. He enjoys fine cigars and good whisky.