Wine Talk

Snooth User: Eric Guido

Wine and Cigars???

Posted by Eric Guido, Oct 9, 2009.

Any help would be appreciated here.

I have a buddy that's really into cigars and I've been partaking from time to time. It's been fun but I've never tried to put a wine in front of someone smoking a cigar. Now that everyone knows I'm the "Wine Guy" I've been asked to supply next weeks smoking event with some wines. YIKES.

I don't know where to start? I was thinking they have to be big and burly but I thought there may be someone out there in Snooth land that has experience with this. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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Replies

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Reply by cigarman168, Oct 9, 2009.

Hi Eric, I should answer you because I am a cigar smoker, but I am not pros for wines. For me, I used to pair with red wine for cigar, since cigar will give you a little bit bitter and spicy taste, so me and my friends will choose some fruity red wines, Port wines, dessert wines (for rich taste cigars ie Cohiba). But if just limited white one, I will suggest Champagne or sparkling wine.

If your friends want high alcoholic one, I will suggest a bottle of Whisky, since both aromas from wines and cigars is a very good pairing.

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Reply by corskier, Oct 10, 2009.

Good vintage port is the best pairing I've ever encountered. Something dark, jammy and sweet works so well with the rich, dark and earthy tastes of cigars, I think it's hard to come up with a better match. Tawnies have a flavor that doesn't lend itself as well to the smoke, IMHO.

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Reply by dmcker, Oct 10, 2009.

Eric, I've had considerable experience with wine and cigars over the years, and have a few friends like yours who are fiends for cigars first, and wine second, even though they claim to be serious about good wines. I tend to be the reverse, though I do enjoy good Cubans from time to time, maybe once or twice a week at most (for reference purposes, I have never smoked cigarettes or pipes, and an occasional cigar is the only tobacco I smoke). These fiends are into even better Cubans to the tune of three a day, in some cases.

I thus have had to cope with the same problem you're facing. Distilled liquor is an easy call, and good brandies and whiskies and rums always work. Fun to dip the smoking (not burning ;-) ) ends of the cigars in the liquor before taking a puff. But I don't think you're asking about that. The short answer I have vis a vis wine, is Port. Second choice some Madeiras and sweet Sherries and the like.

I am very sensitive to the olfactory and taste sensations of wine, and don't like cigarette smoke in the air, much less cigar smoke, when I'm tasting, whether with food or without. I've had to put up with both on occasion, but they are interference just in the air, much less if they get in my mouth and throat while drinking wine. The range of sensations I'm able to experience and enjoy of the wine when smoking is cut down to less than half. So I always try to avoid having good table wines with smoke in the environment.

I don't mind as much with ports and madeiras and olorosos and even marsalas, though. Perhaps also a Vin Santo. Since I also prefer smoking cigars after a meal, rather than on their own, this is an even easier call.

The ports seem to stand up to the cigars better, and I can still enjoy them even with the smoke. The sweetness and alcohol of the fortified wines counterbalance the nicotine, etc. I haven't had as much success with Sauternes or late-harvest German wines. Perhaps it's a varietal (as well as a color or alcoholic percentage) thing...

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Reply by dmcker, Oct 10, 2009.

Corskier, I agree about the vintage port vs. lesser versions, both with cigars and in general... ;-)

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Reply by Eric Guido, Oct 10, 2009.

Sounds like vintage Port may be the way to go. Maybe I'll bring a pre-game bottle of something from my cellar but then go for the Port when the time comes to light up the cigars.

Any suggestions of something that wont be too hard to find. I'm a bit ignorant when it comes to Port.

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Reply by dmcker, Oct 10, 2009.

Again, look for *vintage* ports, not tawnies, rubies, etc. And definitely the more age the better. It always seems a crime to me to drink a vintage port that's less than a decade or even two old. And better yet if it's much, much older. However, pricing being what it is, you'll be wanting to buy them when young and lay them down, which doesn't help you in the current instance.

If you're looking around now I'd focus first on the '85 and '92 vintages. Second choice would be the '83, '91, '94 and 2000 vintages. All excellent vintages, though they will benefit from more age. The 1970 deserves special mention because there are still a number of them around, and they have that much more age, even if the vintage wasn't quite as good as the others I mention (though it was still very good). Ditto for '63. Search for these years and decide what you need to regarding price. If you run across any deals I heartily recommend that you buy some other bottles for your own cellar, and future enjoyment.

I've drunk the most vintage port from these houses: Graham, Cockburn, Dow, Quinta do Noval, Croft, Taylor and Fonseca, roughly in that order. There are others, and each has their own style. I'll keep my preferences out of it for now, other than to say that you won't go wrong with bottles from any of them of any of the vintages I mention above.

Finally, you might also consider one of those Vin Santo bottles you mentioned purchasing a little while back, if not for this occasion then on another cigar night...

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Reply by dmcker, Oct 10, 2009.

Sorry, somehow Warre's slipped from the list of houses producing ports that I've had a lot of. They would fit in the middle of my rankings by the no. of bottles I've consumed from them.

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Reply by Eric Guido, Oct 10, 2009.

Thanks dmcker, I'm looking into a bunch of local places to source some.

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Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Oct 11, 2009.

I prefer Italian Reciotos and in particular, late harvest zins to port for pairing with cigars.
The slightly lower alcohol is less of an overall assault on my senses.

The spicy fruit of the late harvest zins stands up perfectly to a nice cigar for me. Heck some of the "regular" high end zins have enough sugar ad sweet fruit to stand up to a cigar.

Dashe and Ridge make my two favorite Late Harvest Zins.

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Reply by Eric Guido, Oct 11, 2009.

Thanks Greg, Do you know of any places to get the Ridge late Zins besides the winery?

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Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Oct 11, 2009.

No, I pick them up at auction from time to time and have friends in the NY area that open them every so often.

The best LH Zins that I see with any regularity in NYC is the Dashe I mentioned, followed closely by Carol Shelton and then Rosenblum.

The Carol Shelton is a classic style, all American oak, with plenty of vanilla and spice to counter the cigar. I have never had it with a cigar but thinking about all this makes me think it might be the best match among all these.

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Reply by cigarman168, Oct 11, 2009.

Hope to try this with cigar sometime.

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Reply by Eric Guido, Oct 12, 2009.

Carol Shelton is also a late harvest, right? The Black Magic? Or are you referring to their straight Zin?

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Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Oct 12, 2009.

The Black Magic. It should be perfect for a good cigar.

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Reply by chadrich, Oct 12, 2009.

Consention makes a wine called "Cigarzin". My understanding is this wine is crafted to express flavors which will pair well with cigars. Retails around $20. Isn't a late-harvest, but then I think you'll find not everyone is going to be a late harvest fan, regardless of how well it pairs.

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Reply by cigarman168, Oct 12, 2009.

Tonight, I have a Montecristo Open Junior pair with d' Arenberg Love Grass 06, both cigar and wine is first time to try. Both is acceptable to me.

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Reply by neale1, Oct 13, 2009.

My 2c - i love cigars but have yet to find a wine that will go with it - altho - my single malt scotch (we have a SM Scotch club at the store) and cigar goes TeRRiffIC !! - not sure about cigars - u want to enjoy the wine as much as possible, the nose will be completely decimated by the cigar smoke + the taste will be ruined by the tobacco taste.

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Reply by dmcker, Oct 13, 2009.

My first choice for a cigar is still an aged single malt scotch, armagnac/cognac or rum. Port is second choice, with madeira and sweet sherries trailing. I've had enough bad experiences with late harvest zins to be wary of them (and with a non-late-harvest zin I don't want the cigar to screw it up). I did try a black Cahors with a lighter cigar (Montecristo) once, that worked probably as well as a zin, but I always cringe at the hammering the cigar does to the wine. Somehow with my body's chemistry, I like higher alcohol (and sweetness) as a balance for the nicotine from the cigar.

Everyone's obviously a bit different in physical and mental needs and likes, so you should try several options, Eric, and see what solution you ultimately find best...

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Reply by Doctor Bob, Oct 14, 2009.

I prefer to celebrate dinner with red wine. Especially with Italian Food.

After dinner nothing beats Single Malt Scotch with a fresh cigar. My go to favorite is Talisker.

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Reply by Eric Guido, Oct 14, 2009.

I feel cornered with the wine though sine this crowd has asked specifically for it. I'm sure future meets can be enjoyed with a scotch, armagnac/cognac or rum.

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