A while ago the Wine Junkies organized a wine & cigar pairing dinner. A not so conventional pairing, especially given the dominant character of some cigars.
It was a successful event with some great feedback from the cigar lovers who attended.
As the Wine Junkies also appreciate the occasional cigar, we thought it would be a great idea to pair wines and cigars. But where to start? As we also never gave it much thought we had to do quite a bit of research, and to save you time and awful pairing, decided to write a post about it. It turned out, it’s not all that easy, but hope this post will help you get on the way.
The first thing is to determine what type of cigar you are smoking. As with wines, in the world of cigars, people also refer to the body. In order not to make things overly complicated, three kinds of bodies are distinguished, namely light, medium and full bodied. It is therefore very important to realize what type of cigar you have and what has your personal preference. Take note that the body of the cigar is no indication of the quality of the stick, it is more an indication of the style, flavour and depth of the cigar.
To make things easy, we have listed some well-known cigars and indicated how these are best described in terms of body and which wines we recommend to have them paired with.
- Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure de Luxe – LCDH
- Montecristo Open Eagle
- Romeo Y Julieta Cedros de Luxe no. 3
These cigars are a great match with some of the heavier whites out there, such as oaky Napa Chardonnays or some of the finest white Burgundy from Cote de Beaune such as Meursault. We found another surprising match with a sherry, such as Oloroso.
- Montecristo original collection
- Cohiba Siglo I
- Fonseca Delicias
- H. Upmann Connossieur A
- Romeo Y Julieta Churchills
To withstand the depth and flavours of a medium-bodied cigar, it is time to look at reds. Too light and the cigar will evidently overrule the wine. Therefore, it is wise to pair with a solid red that has sufficient flavour and power to cope with the cigar.
Chianti (Classico or Riserva) is an outstanding pairing as it has hints of smoke, tobacco and coffee, yet not overwhelming. This is the pairing we had during the event and was well received by the vast majority of guests. Other good combinations are Napa Cabernet Sauvignon or a stunning Shiraz from Australia’s Barossa Valley.
- Bolivar Tubos No.2
- Partagas Serie P No. 2
- Monte by Montecristo
Probably most challenging pairing is wine and full-bodied cigars. As the volume, aftertaste and flavours are at times overwhelming, you need a blockbuster wine to be able to withstand. After a lot of trial and error we found the best match to be an Amarone. Similar in style, the Amarone wine has a lot of everything; bold aromas, high-acidity, high in alcohol, and although it is a dry wine, high in residual sugar. It comes as no surprise that this wine is, in our opinion the best wine to be paired with a full-bodied cigar.
Other good options are Californian Zinfandel, Barolo, top-class Malbec and Rioja Gran Reserva. These wines have the depth and body to stand up to a full-bodied cigar.
Another amazing pairing partner with cigars is Port. We didn’t want to include it in the above pairings, but Port can be a great match as there are a plenty of styles to choose from. Without getting in too much detail about Port, it is a fortified wine from Portugal’s Douro Valley and can best be described as a sweet, red dessert wine. There are also some white varieties available, but we don’t recommend to pair a white port with cigars.
Light bodied-cigars go fantastically well with Ruby Port. When selecting your Ruby Port to be drank with a light-bodied cigar, look for those Ruby Ports that are not aged for more than 4 years.
Tawny Port tends to be a great match with medium-bodied cigars as they are barrel-aged and exposed to oxidation giving it its distinguished nutty character.
Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) and Vintage Port are the ones to look for when enjoying your full-bodied cigar. The flavour of these style of port-wines are best described as having aroma of chocolate, coffee and smoky hints.
We’d love to hear from you what your favourite cigars are, and what you enjoy drinking with your cigar. Leave a comment below!
Happy smoking and drinking!
The Wine Junkies