Wine & Cigars-Complement Or Clash?

Cigar & brandy, that is the way my father would finish every evening after attending to a busy medical practice. I grew up in the seventies prior to aggressive anti-smoking campaigns and certainly before Mothers Against Drunk Driving was even part of the social landscape. To my dad’s defense both his drinking and smoking was done in moderation and with great class and impeccable taste. He would travel frequently to Cuba and return with wooden boxes filled with the finest tobaccos. I have sweet memories of collecting gorgeous boxes and recycling each into wonderful treasure chests.

The Cigar & Wine Lounge
Recently a good friend of mine invited me to partake of a glass and a cigar in a local cigar and wine lounge. Where I live you are likely to spot one of these establishments in almost every neighborhood. I am a huge wine fan and known to travel the distance to visit trendy wineries around the world. My love relationship with cigars is much different. I appreciate the smell of a good cigar and I can’t deny it serves as a catalyst of wonderful memories from my childhood. Having said that there are very few cigars I have truly enjoyed.

A Good Pairing
The flavoring of good tobacco is quite similar to the notes found in red and bold wines. When describing the flavor of a cigar you are likely to use basic terms such as mild, robust creamy or toasty, but well versed connoisseurs are not hesitant to include flavorings such as leather, oak, nutmeg, spices. Given the similarities in descriptive terminology we need to ask ourselves how exactly do we pair a good wine with a fine cigar?

Before I tell you the secrets of pairing let’s step back for a second and explore the science behind the tasting experience. Tasting happens both in the palate and the taste buds making it a combined experience of the senses. Our ability to taste is at its best during the morning hours but let’s face it, we are very unlikely to pair our eggs or bacon with a cigar or a glass of wine. These activities are highly connected to the social experience therefore reserved usually for later in the day.

Now let’s pair. Bubbly drinks are a no-no. Champagne and other fizzy wines stimulate your taste buds in a way that will overpower the notes of your cigar. If you prefer white wines to reds you will have a very difficult time finding a great pairing. If you do find a good pairing it will most likely be a creamy and sweet tobacco in tandem with a dry white wine. Consider a Muscadet or an Albariño. It is only when we come to the realm of the red wines that you will find a multitude of delightful pairings. While a pairing is anything you like and it is highly subjective I have found that a good Merlot works with most maduros or dark tobbacos. My second favorite pairing is a Shiraz with a Padron maduro. In short, if berries and coffee notes are present in your wine it will best compliment your cigar experience.

Lisa Herms is a lifestyle writer and the editor for smokeless cigarettes. Lisa was born in Costa Rica but currently lives in Santa Monica, CA.