Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Six Smokin' Tips for Pairing Cigars and Wine

My profile photo has resulted in several questions about how to pair wine and cigars.  As when pairing wine and food, remember that it’s all about body and taste. Consider the intensity of flavor in the cigar and the wine, match the sweetness levels of both, and keep the acidic/tartness levels about equal.

Of course, you could simplify it to the point of pairing a white wine with a light-bodied cigar and a red wine with a medium or full-bodied cigar, but that does take a bit of the fun,  mystery, and great pairing potential out of the experience.

While white wines are not as easy to pair with a cigar as red wines, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try – just be patient and realize that not every pairing is going to make your taste buds happy.

As when complimenting wines with food, it’s all about your taste preferences, so keep notes on what works and what doesn’t. A journal can help guide you to your perfect wine and cigar matches.

With that in mind, here are six smokin’ tips to matching your favorite vino with a stogie.

1) Pair a light-bodied white wine with a cigar of the same type. If you have hints of grass and herbs in your vino (perhaps a light-bodied Sauvignon Blanc), opt for a light-bodied cigar with similar descriptive notes. (You might consider Drew Estate and one of their herbal blended Acid cigars to start.)

2) The wine’s flavor profile will skew the cigar’s, and vise-versa. Expect that. Remember, it’s all about enjoyment and the experience, not a “perfect match” every time.

3) I'm biased. That said, red wines pair the best with cigars. A cigar with the flavors of cedar and spice is best paired with a bold red vino with the same flavor profile. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Malbec or even Merlot will adequately, sometimes fantastically, stand up to your stick.  (My go-to is Penfolds Koonunga Hill Cab/Shiraz.)

4) Ports are the go-to for most wine-lovers when pairing vino with cigars. These fortified wines lend themselves to a satisfactory match, thanks to the Brandy addition in the fortification process. Experiment with Ports and cigars from the same country and see what develops.

5) Sherries are another dessert wine that can make your stogie more flavorful. Again, it’s all about matching flavors, and having patience. If at first you don’t succeed … grab another vino and try again.

6) Sparkling wines and cigars can make an amazing pairing; sparkles enhances the smoky flavors, but stick to a crisp dry sparkling wine. The price point is not important, an inexpensive sparkling wine paired with a medium bodied cigar could make you a fan forever.

Of course, the traditional 
pairing of cigars and spirits is always a good match, but experimenting and discovering which wines pair well with your favorite cheroot can result in an enjoyable, smokin’ evening.

Anyone have a great wine/cigar combo to share?

~ Joy