Wine and Cigars

Two of my favorite vices!   However, often fervent cigar aficionados avoid fine wine with their cigars.  As I travel around the US selling wine, I almost always find a local cigar shop to visit.  I frequently talk to the patrons conducting research on their favorite beverage to pair with their cigar.  The usual response is Scotch Whisky, American Bourbon, Port, or fine French Cognac.   I always try to influence the crowd to try fine wine.

There are many responses as to why some smokers prefer not to pair cigars and wine.  Usually it has to do with what can be dominating flavors in the cigar muting the flavor of the wine or the combination of bitterness that both cigars and red wine possess.   In both cases, I think they just have not had the right wine paired with the right cigar.

Truthfully, the proper pairing can be absolutely amazing.  The earthy tobacco notes of a good smoke can accentuate the same earth tones in a fine wine.  In addition, a properly aged red wine generally shows hints of cedar and spice similar to a great cigar.

The key to enjoying this play on flavors is finding someone knowledgeable enough on both wine and cigars to help put the right cigar in your hand for the wine you are enjoying.  I can tell you on my end that you can always find someone with the proper knowledge of one or the other.  Finding that rare aficionado of both smoke and wine is a bit more of a challenge.

I have had the good fortune of knowing a couple such professionals and always look forward to their recommendations.  Below are some of my favorite cigars to enjoy with our wines.  Yes, the wine selections are biased, but hey this is a winery blog!

Smith Wooton Cabernet Franc paired with My Father “The Judge”

This combination highlights the cedar and leather component to both the wine and the cigar.  The cigar is box pressed so it has a very slow even burn.  The smoke shows an earthiness that is perfect for Cabernet Franc.  This wine is a single vineyard CF that always displays a unique combination of floral perfume on the nose and rich earth on the palate.  The finish is smooth and reminiscent of cedar and tobacco.

Croze Cabernet Sauvignon paired with Olivia Serie ‘V’ Melania

OK, so this is a pairing that could change your life!   Make sure you have a solid 2 hours to enjoy the complexity of the wine and the cigar.  I also recommend a great playlist that will help you relax and take in all the glory.  Croze Cabernet Sauvignon is a deeply complex wine that showcases balance and elegance.  That same elegance is evident in the Melania.  Both showcase earth, espresso, and underlying spice.   The ‘V’ finishes with a touch of sweetness that is perfect with the acidity of the Cabernet Sauvignon.

Smith Wooton Mélange paired with Ashton Sun Grown

This is another interesting combination.  The Ashton Sun Grown cigars have a pronounced Graham Cracker note along with course black pepper spice.  The sheer richness of the Melange can handle the spice and slight sweetness of the cigar.  Melange is a dense wine that is a blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot.  The Merlot gives the wine an unctuous that highlights the creaminess of the Ashton.

If you are a cigar smoker, I urge you to try a well made fine wine with your next smoke.  The pairing can be ethereal.  For those who need help matching the right wine and cigar, I recommend the following:

The Pipe and Pint – Larry and Pete are the best in the business.  Great selection of cigars and wines, plus decades of knowledge.

Napa Cigars – Eric is fantastic and can offer great recommendations.  Wines served by the glass and a great selection of cigars.

 

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5 Spring Food & Wine Pairings!

Spring has arrived and here are 5 of our favorite Spring food and wine pairings. There is nothing better than grilled meats, fresh garden vegetables and wine to make that spring day perfect!

  1. Smoked Trout and Croze Viognier-One of our favorite spring activities is dropping a line in the water and pulling in a fresh trout, if that isn’t your thing head over and ask your fish monger they will even pre-fillet it upon request. The richness of the barrel aged Viognier and its natural floral aromas and fresh citrus character will balance out the smoke and rich tender fish. Serve with a fresh tomato, basil & mozzarella salad.                   hotsmokedtrout-300x200
  2. Sea Bass and Croze Chardonnay-Fresh sea bass and a chardonnay that exhibits fresh fruit and acid qualities are a fantastic spring match. Our chardonnay is barrel fermented with no malolactic fermentation leading to a wine that shows bright fruit and acidity that adds to the fish while cutting through the fattiness. We like to use a simple preparation for the fish of olive oil, garlic and fresh parsley as these ingredients will meld with the chardonnay. The goal of the pairing is to bring out flavors that complement each other and here we are focused on freshness.                                                                                              Chard13
  3. Wild Mushroom and Burrata Cheese Bruschetta and Smith Wooton Pinot Noir-Burrata cheese has an amazing flavor and great texture that works well on crusty bread and when mixed with the flavorful mushrooms just melts in your mouth. We like to pair this entertaining dish with Pinot Noir as the earthiness of the Pinot Noir compliments the wild mushrooms flavor as well as the richness of the burrata cheese.      Mushroom-Bruschetta-2
  4. Lamb Kabobs and Smith Wooton Cabernet Franc– I think there is something special about pairing Cabernet Franc with lamb especially if the lamb has a drizzle of olive oil and a pepper component in the dish. We will leave the lamb marinade up to you as long as you have red pepper on your kabob. The Cabernet Francs characteristics of pepper, mint and slight spices make the wine a perfect complement to the lambs  succulent flavors and natural richness. We prefer to grill the lamb as this brings a heightened smoky flavor from the lamb into the wine. We like to serve the lamb kabobs on a bed of couscous.            lamb kabobs
  5. Seared Duck breast with Huckleberry Sauce and Croze Cabernet Sauvignon-Don’t be afraid of the reputation of duck being a tricky dish to handle, this may be the most wine friendly meat. Two main points to pairing duck 1.Duck needs a wine with a bit of acidity to counter the richness of the meat 2. Duck has a gamey quality that needs an earthy wine to act as a counterbalance. If you use a fruit sauce such as huckleberry you need a complex wine that balances fruit, earth and acidity. The Croze Cabernet Sauvignon medium body and elegance will not overpower the duck while the dark fruit will compliment the sauce accompaniment.                                                                                                                                                                      Croze Cab 2014                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Cheers & Bon Appetit!