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Wine and Cigars

Wine and cigars are often closely associated. Cigar enthusiasts also fancy themselves wine lovers and often go so far as to pair the two. What specifically are the similarities between wine and cigars?

Seeds and Regions: Wine is often described and given its character by its grapes in much the same way that a cigar is identified by its tobacco. Like grapes, tobacco varies greatly by both its seed and growing region. The seeds most often associated with tobacco are Havana (also referred to as Criollo, Corojo and Habano), Cameroon, Sumatra and Connecticut. These seeds are harvested all over the world including: Africa, Indonesia, Ecuador, Cuba, Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama and a host of other countries. Depending on the region and specific seed, the resulting tobacco is extremely diverse and offers different qualities in terms of flavor, body and combustion.

Fermentation: Processing grapes for wine is equally as important as processing tobacco for cigars. Like wine, tobacco is fermented to break down tannons, extract sugar, and remove many other byproducts from the raw materials. As it pertains to cigars, the fermentation process can last anywhere from one to three years and like wine, is the step where a blender can impart his own expertise to give it a signature flavor. For example, two cigar makers may buy tobacco from the same farmer or field, but each will ferment it differently resulting in a unique flavor profile when the leaf makes its way to the resulting cigar. The most talented blenders in the cigar industry often utilize family recipes and traditions that have been handed down over generations. For any master blender, the fermentation process is one of his most guarded secrets.

Aging: Even a novice wine drinker knows that a fine vino only improves with age. However, most people are unaware that cigars age in much the same way. Under the right climate conditions, cigars will age by marrying the tobaccos more harmoniously while simultaneously continuing to break down some of the rougher more tanic properties of the leaf. A properly aged cigar will yield a more balanced and rounded flavor that offers the connoisseur a more subtle variety. However, like wine, the aging process is very specific, and a cigar will typically peak. It takes a well trained eye and palate know when a cigar or bottle of wine is at its best.

Tasting: As it is with any delicacy, cigars stimulate the palate in the same fashion as will a glass of wine. By manipulating the bitter, acid, sweet and salt regions of palate, cigars deliver flavor and complexity that is judged in many of the same ways a sommelier will judge a fine wine. These categories include things such as: strength, balance, flavor, and finish.

Pairing: Deciding on a glass of white wine with your fish or on a glass of red with your steak is an important choice that has a great influence on your overall satisfaction with your meal. Selecting the right cigar to accompany your food or drink of choice is equally as important. Certain tobaccos tend to complement a dish better than others and are often selected for their subtle or robust qualities. After a meal, fat cells remain in your mouth and these pockets are ideal for smoke to cling to. Which cigar pairs best with which food is strictly a matter of preference.

Cigars are as dynamic as wine and over time have become more and more popular. Everyday in fact, the cigar culture is attracting new enthusiasts who are interested in exploring what this exciting hobby has to offer. While perhaps most of the public is more familiar with wine, cigars are every bit as intriguing but are often more misunderstood. If you fancy yourself a connoisseur of life’s finest things, cigars should be high on your list.
Published Thursday, February 28, 2008 12:00 AM by Alex Svenson



PitchingDoc said:

Although I currently live in Calfiornia, I am not that big a fan of wine.  I was wondering if there's a way to pair cigars with beer or whiskey.

I'm very new to cigars and have recently smoked a Henry Clay and a Hoyo de Monterey.  I found the Hoyo to have a better draw and overall smoother feel to it.  

When I smoked both cigars, however, I had a need to add my Ol Grand Dad Whiskey.  Is this advisable?

Thank you.
July 18, 2008 8:27 PM

chipdivot said:


Try pairing your cigar with beer like food and wine...a light wrapper and mild cigar with a lager...or maduro wrapper and med to full bodied with a dark full bodied beer. One of my favorites is to pair a 5 Vegas Series "A" with a spicey zinfandel.

Ol Grand Dad....hmmmm...ever try a single barrel Jack Daniels or Belvenie Double Wood Scotch...now those are tastey!
November 13, 2008 12:10 PM

Ken Light said:

 I have a couple recommendations.  For some reason, I've found that pairing Sam Adams White Ale with a variety of different cigars.  I've enjoyed it greatly with a Five Vegas and a Rocky Patel Decade.  Something about the plethora of spices in that particular beer really compliments a lot of the different notes in the cigars.
 Second, for scotch, I concur with chip's choice of Jack Daniels single barrel for whiskey, but for a Scotch my favorites are Oban and any Glenfiddich 15 yr (formerly Solera Reserva).
  I hope you've expanded your cigar palette since this post as well.  Experiment and enjoy!
March 20, 2009 3:50 PM

William Cannon said:

i agree that wine and cigars are at times the best of friends......but my wife and i recently went on a wine tasting tour through the Texas hill country and found a winery that makes a Port just for cigars...called the XO...look into it
September 7, 2009 7:41 AM

morenoa said:

I started smoking cigars about a year ago. I tried picking cigars by a number rating, then I tried making notes on the backs of the labels and keeping them. But when you run accross a good cigar you know it and remember it, much like a favorite beverage. I'm a beer lover, but tried to get into wines which led me to cigars. Never being a smoker I started slow. I eventually went back to beer and smoke about three cigars a week.

I now have my own humidor which can hold approx. 3,000 cigars. I'll never fill it but I've learned that just because a cigar dosen't taste good once it dosen't mean it's a bad cigar. It could be the store you purchased it from. Just like different temp beers and wines they taste different.

If you look more forward to take your next drink before your next draw on the cigar it's time for a different cigar or vise versa. Looking more forward to your next draw than the next sip it's time to change your drink. Eventually you enjoy your drink as equal as your cigar. Now you have a match that will give you great pleasure. Thats why we smoke cigars

I'm a big time dark beer drinker but I enjoy a medium cigar with hot apple cider while relaxing in my barn on a cold eve.
December 12, 2009 3:51 PM

leftyjcw said:

Cigar and Jim Beam. Straight. Life just doesn't get any better. I build musical instruments and I generally keep a sip and a smoke going. My little shop is a wonderful haven for just such activities. I hope and pray that my last breath is taken with the taste of a fine cigar and my whiskey. Right here in my humble little shop. Hopefully, the guitar I will be working on will be finished, at the time. For the sake of the customer.  Ckeck out   woodcrafting.org   Search under "community" for  southpawcustoms. I hope you like. Bless all.
December 22, 2009 7:12 PM

cgslater12 said:

Bacardii Gold, spash of Coke, and a Padilla, any Padilla , oh so good.
March 1, 2012 8:51 PM
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About Alex Svenson

I enjoy at least one premium cigar everyday and have the privilege of working directly with every major cigar maker in the industry. I love developing new and exciting cigar blends and bringing only the best this industry has to offer to our Cigar.com clients.

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