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Wine And Cigar Pairing 101

by Ron Barker, Cigarvolante Llc

CigarVolante started wine and cigar pairings last year and as a result of its acceptance formalized it with the foundation of the Virginia Wine and Cigar Trail™ (VWACT) this spring. The Virginia Wine and Cigar Trail™ is an affiliation of five wineries and CigarVolante LLC, the Virginia Distributor for Panacea Cigars, a mild to medium bodied cigar that has an unusually complex flavor in a milder cigar, lending itself perfectly to pairing with wine and craft beers. Each of the wineries in the VWACT offers those Panacea Cigars that are paired specifically to their wines and supports and encourages cigar smoking at their wineries, many times in separate smoking areas. They see the aesthetic cigar smoker as the ideal target market as the cigar smoker is: 35 to 65, has above average income, has above average taste, and is willing to spend an hour or two enjoying a fine cigar, usually with a beverage, in this case the wine of the VWACT member, perfectly matched to enhance both the flavor of the cigar and the flavor of the wine.The Panacea Cigars offer a broad spectrum of blends that cover the breadth of Virginia Wines, from red to white, dry to sweet, alkaline to acid. They have five blends that can be paired with the general characteristics of Virginia wines as follows:Black Natural – The Natural is our mildest cigar. Unlike many mild cigars, however, The Natural has big flavors that I like to describe as being “like smoking a Latte.” It is creamy, with hints of coffee and cinnamon spice and pairs beautifully with well-oaked Chardonnays. This is a perfect example of the complexity and delicacy of cigar and wine pairing as The Natural has to be mild enough not to overpower the delicacy of the white wine and yet have a bold enough flavor to stand up to the full flavors of the oak.Black Maduro – The Maduro is slightly stronger and has a bigger, bolder flavor with more coffee, burnt walnut, leather and earthy flavors. It has a fungal, mushroom flavor that offers a dry finish. This is a great pairing for the heart of the Virginia Red wines which tend to be lighter bodied and offer an earthiness. I like it with Cab Franc, Pinot Noir and those bigger reds that have that earthy quality.Red Habano – The Habano is our fullest flavored cigar with full and spicy flavors. All too often the cigar smoker thinks of spice as pepper but, in this case, there is little pepper but a rich, full and complex flavor that can stand up to the biggest red including Cabernets Sauvignons, Petit Verdots, Zinfandels and Burgundies. These seem to work the best when they have a pronounced red-fruit flavor and a fuller body.Green Habano – The Green is the cigar that creates the line-distinction. There are only two cigars that I am aware of that use Pennsylvania Broadleaf as a wrapper, this being one of them. The PA Broadleaf introduces an acidity that you don’t find in many cigars as cigar smoke is primarily alkaline. If you smoke an alkaline cigar with an acidic beverage it is like brushing your teeth and drinking orange juice; it just doesn’t work. In this case, The Green has the acidity and crisp flavors to complement acidic white wines like a steel aged Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc. Azul Cameroon – The Cameroon wrapper of the Azul has a touch of fruity sweetness on the tongue that is reminiscent of pear or melon, and is a nice contrast to the earthy, burnt-walnut and coffee base flavors. There is just a hint of the PA Broadleaf in the filler that offers some acidity and the result is a sweet-tart combination that becomes an ideal pairing for complex wines that have a touch of residual sugar. It is a wonderful pairing with a Virginia Traminette or a slightly sweet and fruity blush wine or sangria. White Corojo – The White is a medium strength cigar that has a creamy sweetness with the flavors of pumpkin spice and autumn. There is a hint of molasses, maple sugar and perhaps burnt marshmallow that highlight the butterscotch flavors of a Virginia Viognier. This combination creates some surprising results and you may find that it really “pops” the fruit flavors in the right wines. We have found these pairings to work about 80% of the time but the real fun comes with the other 20%, where the Habano pairs with a fruitier and bolder Cab Franc, for example, or we find a wine that pairs with both the Azul and the Corojo, either of which highlighting different characteristics of a Traminette, one accenting the fruit and the other the acidity. This is where the fun begins.For more information on the Virginia Wine and Cigar Trail check our web site, and for more information on the Panacea Cigars, .

About the Author

Ron Barker, Cigarvolante Llc - Virginia is the home of the American tobacco industry and new home of one of the fastest growing wine regions in the country. What better place to highlight the pairing of a hand made cigar and a premium wine? The Virginia Wine and Cigar Trail, sponsored by CigarVolante LLC, highlights those wineries that appreciate the cigar smoker as an ideal customer for their wineries by providing a place to smoke and Panacea Pairings, their wine paired with the perfect cigar.

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