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wine pairings for cigars

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My friend owns a cigar shop and is trying to organize a wine tasting, and participants are asked to bring a wine that pairs well with cigars. Are there certain wines or characteristics of wines which would pair well with cigars? One thing I don't want to happen is to have the wine overpowered by the cigar taste and smoke.

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  1. I'd choose things with similar and powerful aromatics to get at a "surround-sound" flavor experience:

    Madeira, especially malmsey.
    Older ports (20 years plus) that have developed roasted nut, dried fruit and spice aromas. Tawnies, late-disgorged, etc.
    Pedro Ximenez, but those with some power, like the Venerable from Domecq
    Oloroso Sherry, like the Sibarita -- the aromatics are the link here
    Amarone, but not a watered down version. The 2006 is good; avoid the 2008 because it's thin. See the list here: http://italianwinereview.blogspot.com...

    Enough for now.

    5 Replies
    1. re: maria lorraine

      The Blandy 5 year Malmsley Madeira has become my poor man's port, with both cheese and cigars. Your fortified wine & cigar pairings are surprisingly spot on, for a girl.....:)

      1. re: maria lorraine

        TO THE OP:

        OK, I'll confess I never had a cigar with an Amarone, but I know from first-hand experience that the others recommended by ML *can* work . . .

        My problem is that there is -- IMHO -- ***no way*** that the aromatics and flavors of a cigar will not affect the aromatics and flavors of the wine. I don't know about you, but the flavors of the cigar last on the palate far longer (and more intensely) than any Porto, Sherry, or Madeira.

        Also, there is a point at which older Porto becomes more delicate and can be overwhelmed by the cigar. When we had an active "Vintage Port & Cigar Club" back in the 1980s, we would always drink three bottles of Vintage Porto. A typical meeting would include 1) something from a vintage prior to World War II; 2) something from the 1940s or 1950s; and 3) something from the 1960s or early 1970s. It was only with the youngest Porto that we would light up.

        Since then, however, I've come to prefer spirits with my cigars -- Armagnac or Rhum Agricole are my favorites -- or espresso. If I am going to have wine with a cigar, I'll opt for a Madeira -- a Malmsey, as ML suggests.

          1. re: maria lorraine

            ""surround-sound" flavor experience"

            Could you state another way what you mean by this? Quadrophonic?

            1. re: FrankJBN

              Quadraphonic???? In 1970, sure. Lots better sound technology now than 40+ years ago.

              The surround-sound metaphor means amplification and multiplication of flavors through flavor mirroring.

          2. ML has hit many of the "high notes," and with Ports, I lean very heavily to Tawnies vs VP's. I will also add many bigger Zins to the mix. I love the Turley's, the Biale's and similar, with my cigars.

            Being a cigar fan, I admit to sampling many with many - wines that is. Lighter wines pale (and my cigars are usually medium body), and loose ALL character. It takes a much sturdier wine to keep showing with the cigars.

            ML's Amarone suggestion is also a real fav. of mine, but then her other suggestions work for me too. Other than the Zins, I have noting to add to her post.

            Hunt

            2 Replies
            1. re: Bill Hunt

              I've sometimes paired a cigar with a 4 puttonyos Tokay...worked pretty well...

              1. re: penthouse pup

                I have never done that, but as it sounds like fun, perhaps I will do so soon. I think that I might be using a 5 puttonyos, as I do not recall having a 4 around, but that is moot.

                Thanks,

                Hunt

            2. Then why is everybody complaining when I want to light up a smoke at a wine tasting?

              I often see this question at cigar forums where, just as here I am sure, people would be aghast at the idea of trying to pair wines and cigarettes

              Fortified wines and cigars can work - try a Fonseca and a Fonseca.

              I do not pair smokes with table wine. I don't think it works well.

              5 Replies
              1. re: FrankJBN

                >>> Then why is everybody complaining when I want to light up a smoke at a wine tasting? <<<

                Not really a *serious* question, was it?

                1. re: zin1953

                  No, not really.

                  However at wine samplings, which are tastings of a sort, I have seen more than several cigars being smoked, in line, at service table etc.

                  I'm a smoker of cigars and cigarettes. As noted above, I don't think they go with wine and indeed interfere with even the casual critical tasting/enjoyment of wine.

                  1. re: FrankJBN

                    Unless I was doing a personal event, and pairing my cigars with my wines, well after the meal, and other wines, I would never mix. Cigars are rather personal, and many would be very unhappy to have me sharing mine with them, unless they joined in a "separate" event. Just my approach.

                    Hunt

                    1. re: FrankJBN

                      Depends on which you are enjoying more. Often it's the cigar I'm interested in over the beverage

                  2. re: FrankJBN

                    As to 'Port and cigars in the war room, gentlemen.', we should remember that probably those retiring for port and cigars had probably polished off a couple whiskey and sodas and a few bottles of claret before hand. Toasting more than tasting was the order of the night, and I don't mean the Queen.

                  3. I gave up on any wine with a cigar many years ago as trying to find the lesser of evils. I enjoy my wine too much to hobble it with a cigar. Go with a 15 year El Dorado Demarra Rum, a good beer - or - water!

                    1. I've been mulling over this for a few days now. I too basically don't think cigars and wine "pair" well. But then again, I don't care for the Real Housewives franchise either. And I suspect our OP won't be telling his buddy, "Hey, all the genieses over on Chowhound said your idea sucked so you should cancel."

                      It occured to me that I've smoked a cigar and drank wine at the same time and had fun, and maybe that is the point. Maybe I need to expand my notion of pairing beyond the idea of two things that flawlessly mesh with each other. Instead, what wines would be fun to bring to event like this?

                      Well, an obvious one might be Cosentino's Cigar Zin. If no one else stumbles upon it, you'd be a hero.

                      Bonny Doon's Le Cigare Volant. I little spendy and cigare means something totally different here but hey, it is a cigar event.

                      Smoking Loon Syrah. Hey, it's afforable and has smoking in the name.

                      SeaSmoke. It isn't affordable and it won't pair well at all but the one wine geek in the group will be your best friend.

                      Any big-*ss Aussie shriaz that should come co-packed with a toothbrush. If it is dark enough to use as tattoo ink, it should hold up okay against a cigar.

                      Oh, and what they said before about Port and Sherry and Madiera and Tokay, I think that stuff works too

                      1. Thanks for all the great suggestions! There will certainly be some ports and other fortified wines at the tasting to go with the cigars. I also can see how an amarone would fit the bill. I guess after reading all your posts that we should think of this more as get together to share and enjoy some wines and stogies than to try to pair them together. I like the idea of lighting up closer to the end of the tasting when we start pouring the sturdier red wines and fortified wines. I know one person plans on bringing a Penfolds Grange, so that certainly counts as an inky, tooth-staining wine.

                        11 Replies
                        1. re: nycyn

                          "one person plans on bringing a Pensold's Grange"

                          See, for me, this would be a possibly/probably once in a lifetime wine opportunity that would be very likely be ruined (or at least denigrated) by presentation during a "herf" (as cigar smoking sessions are currently known).

                          I've actually been a wine drinker for a shorter time than I have been a cigar smoker (although we're talking three decades as opposed to four), but in terms of critical appreciation, sensory distinction and overall enjoyment of the pleasures of [i]degustacion[/i], wines take the premier position.

                          1. re: nycyn

                            Remember, it's not all ports or fortified wines that will go with cigars. Only a few, hence the recommendations. To achieve a "pairing," you're going to have to dial it in -- not just have generic ports or non-specific fortified wines.

                            1. re: maria lorraine

                              "To achieve a "pairing," you're going to have to dial it in -- not just have generic ports or non-specific fortified wines."

                              Going to have to pick a cigar too.

                              "Only a few" fortified wines that will go with cigars? I think in general it is safe to say that cigars and fortified wines, Ports, Madeiras, Sherries do go together.

                              Can you think of certain Ports or other fortified wines that generally will not drink well with a cigar or conversely, the "few" that do? (This question of course assumes that the partaker enjoys both cigars and fortified wines separate from each other.)

                                1. re: FrankJBN

                                  >>> Can you think of certain Ports or other fortified wines that generally will not drink well with a cigar or conversely, the "few" that do? <<<

                                  Yes. Certainly.

                                  1. re: zin1953

                                    Zin1953 - Well?

                                    Looking at MarieLorraine's list (after missing it on second go round), I disagree that portos must be 20 years old or more to drnk well with cigars. I have found that younger ports- vintage , tawnies, and house proprietary blends drink well with cigars as well as LBVs and colheitas. What is it about these wines that make them unsuitable for cigars in your view?.

                                    While PX sherries are (as one producer puts it) the cream of cream sherries, certainly others drink well with cigars, not as rich as PX but richer than Olorosas.

                                    Boal/bual Madeira or Bual/Malmsey blends are rich enough for cigars.

                                    I don't think anyone imagined that fino sherries, white ports or rainwater Madeiras generally are taken at the end of the night with cigars - at any rate, I certainly wasn't including them.

                                    I guess what I am interested in is the question I put to MarieLorriane in more general terms - what is it about say an ordinary tawny that makes it unacceptable as an accompaniment to a cigar?

                                    1. re: FrankJBN

                                      >>> I disagree that portos must be 20 years old or more to drnk well with cigars. I have found that younger ports- vintage , tawnies, and house proprietary blends drink well with cigars as well as LBVs and colheitas. What is it about these wines that make them unsuitable for cigars in your view?. <<<

                                      Frank? Could you point to where I said that Porto must be 20+ years old to drink well with cigars? I never said that. It was ML who did. I *specifically* said above -- in describing the activities of our "Vintage Port & Cigar Club" the following:

                                      "Also, there is a point at which older Porto becomes more delicate and can be overwhelmed by the cigar. When we had an active 'Vintage Port & Cigar Club' back in the 1980s, we would always drink three bottles of Vintage Porto. A typical meeting would include 1) something from a vintage prior to World War II; 2) something from the 1940s or 1950s; and 3) something from the 1960s or early 1970s. It was only with the youngest Porto that we would light up."

                                      I also posted that I have come to prefer spirits over wines with my cigars.

                                      So I'm a bit confused by your post . . .

                                      1. re: FrankJBN

                                        Frank,

                                        The tone of the thread at this point is not one I like -- too argumentative and almost badgering.

                                        The key qualities of the wines for the pairing to work well are opulent aromatics and power.
                                        If the wines do not have obvious and powerful aromatics, they won't work.
                                        The wines must also be powerful -- of a certain intensity -- or they won't work.

                                        Otherwise the flavors of the wines will be lost among the many cigars and clouds of smoke.

                                        It's the primary rule of pairing food to wine: match intensity.

                                        Another pairing rule is at work, also: match tone.
                                        Opulent cigar; opulent wines.

                                        I don't see any reason to throw a cigar and wine pairing party unless your goal is to get it right, to show people what magic can happen if you select good cigars and wines with enough aromatics and power to stand up to them.

                                        So, we disagree. But please, keep the questions cordial, OK?

                                    2. re: FrankJBN

                                      >>> "Only a few" fortified wines that will go with cigars? I think in general it is safe to say that cigars and fortified wines, Ports, Madeiras, Sherries do go together. <<<

                                      Seriously? See below.

                                      >>> Can you think of certain Ports or other fortified wines that generally will not drink well with a cigar or conversely, the "few" that do? <<<

                                      Now I'm really confused! You yourself name SEVERAL "fortified wines, Ports, Madeiras, Sherries" that do NOT go well with cigars: Fino Sherry, White Porto, Rainwater Madeira are but three which do not go well, and there are many others: I cannot see a dry Sherry of any kind working well, be it a Fino or Manzanilla, or non-sweetened versions of Amontillado or Palo Cortado; the same is true for Sercial and Verdelho, AND older Vintage, Colheita or Tawny Ports (see my other posts in this thread).

                                      I cannot quite imagine, say, a Muscatel de Setúbal pairing well with cigars, but will also admit I've also never tried that combination. So, too, for Moscatels from Navarra, Muscat Beaume de Venise, and so on. Also, the fortified Muscats (Black, White, Pink) from Massandra, or even their "ports."

                                  2. re: nycyn

                                    So I retract my statement in regard to the CigarZin and Seasmoke if someone is bringing Grange. Dang. Where is this event? I wouldn't consider it really anything close to ideal tasting conditions but if it's there, I'd drink it in a hearbeat.

                                    1. re: nycyn

                                      I would do the Penfold's, before any cigars, and I love cigars.

                                      Hunt

                                    2. Recently got into cigars and have been reading books and watching videos online to learn more. I watched a video today about pairing wine w/ cigars. During the video the gentleman blew cigar smoke directly into his glass of Shiraz, placed his hand over the glass and swirled and for a good long time it appeared. He then raised his hand off the glass allowing all the smoke to escape first and took a sip. He went on to discuss the success of this marriage. So I tried it w/ an inexpensive Cabernet. It worked well, for me anyway. The lingering woody, peppery, smoke aroma blended well w/ the fat fruit of the wine.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Chinon00

                                        you could be in heaven in a place called Danville Cigar, Fine Wine - but I can see you are on the East coast so this is way too far. But I go there often - I am into wines, my attempt to learn to smoke cigars failed - even the mildest cigars are too harsh for me. But I still meet great people there, they often combine special cigar events with some wine pouring, as a matter of fact I am going there this Friday.

                                      2. As I am reading this I am partaking in one of the great joys of my life. I am enjoying my cigar with a 10 year old Foseca 10 year old Tawny Port.

                                        www.gasperthewineguy.blogspot.com

                                        1. I also love to sip Madeira with a mild Dominican cigar, but I prefer a drier Terrantez or Sercial. An Oloroso is also lovely, and I prefer it with a Nicaraguan cigar like Arturo Fuente's or a Cuban Partagas. Basically I like to enjoy a fortified wine that's on the dry side with cigars. On warm days I chill the wine so it's more refreshing to sip with the cigar.

                                          1. Not much of a cigar smoker myself (anymore), but when I was, I found aged rum or a good single malt to be a much better match than any wine.