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!
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.
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.