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Mixing It Up: Food And Drinks That Go Well With Cigars

Apr 8, 2008
Premium cigars are many peoples' idea of the ultimate inexpensive luxury item. So with more and more Americans putting more thought into their meals - as the proliferation of magazines such as Food and Wine, Cook's Illustrated and Food, as well as the new popularity of cooking shows and books attests - it's natural enough to wonder how these two pleasures might combine. What foods and beverages go best with premium cigars?

First of all, it should be noted that some cigar lovers don't recommend mixing the joys of the table with those of the lighter at all, under any circumstances. There are good arguments to be made on both sides (it makes sense to focus all of one's energies on a rich, demanding taste, but on the other hand, variety is the spice of life), so decide what works for you. Also, of course, keep in mind the preferences of your dinner companions, especially if they are non-smokers, children, foodies, or people with a hyper-sensitive sense of smell.

The question about beverages is easiest to answer: Wine, the finer the better. After all, the two items make a kind of sense together: they're both somewhat acquired tastes, they both benefit from aging, and they both need to be savored, not rushed. Many experts recommend red wine, especially rich red wines such as port. Both extremely sweet and extremely bitter wines tend not to mix successfully with cigars (or with much of anything else), so that wines like beaujolais noveaus, or some cabernet sauvignons, will tend to elbow aside the taste of even the strongest stogie from your mouth. With some French red wines, which are very subtle, on the other hand, you have the opposite problem: the cigar is too powerful to let you taste the wine. But that still leaves many options. Red zinfandels, Pinot Noirs, and Spanish and Italian red table wines come with the imprimatur of at least one cigar expert (writer Tad Gage). White wines are, in general, less recommended, though you might get away with a fairly neutral-tasting one.

Some smokers have found they enjoy drinking beer along with a cigar. The idea is a bit controversial, though. In any case, the better-made the beer, the more likely it becomes that the two tastes will complement each other. (Dousing the taste of a CAO cigar with a bottle of Bud is not recommended!) A stout may make more sense, such as Guinness. As for harder liquors, go to it (in moderation - you want to stay sober enough to taste what you're smoking, after all!). The rule of thumb is: high-alcohol or well-aged drinks should be taken with strong-tasting cigars; lighter spirits go with lighter smokes.

That same rule applies when it comes to mixing cigars with food. Your major, calorie-intensive meal of the day is the wrong prelude to a lighter cigar; smoke the heaviest you've got. (Thus the tradition of the after-dinner smoke.) Similarly, if you're eating salad and drinking water for your supper, you probably will find that a light cigar makes the best accompaniment. In any case, save the cigar for after the meal. Some smokers will try a short, light smoke before a meal (along with a drink, as a sort of appetizer), but if you're one of them, you'll probably find that a cigarillo makes more sense in this case than a Churchill. Don't overload your palate before the meal even begins.

Coffee can offer a natural complement to the taste of cigars. Try a strong-flavored, full-bodied coffee, such as a Colombian or East Timorese bean. The stronger-tasting sorts of teas, such as China Black or Earl Grey, also hold up well in the presence of a cigar, though herbal teas won't work as well - they are so light that they simply evaporate in the presence of cigar smoke.

Finally, what about desert? It's a bit risky - you might enjoy a premium dark chocolate alongside a premium claro cigar (the sweet and bitter may end up complementing each other), but most of the time, a heavily sugared desert won't mix too well with a cigar. Especially to be avoided is anything creamy, such as ice cream or, say, angel food cake with a chocolate sauce. A simple desert will clash the least with a cigar. Fruit, sorbet, cheese, plain custard, and unsweetened pumpkin pie or untopped pecan pie are also suggested.
About the Author
CigarFox provides the finest cigars that include cigar brands like Cohiba, Montecristo, Gurkha, Macanudo, Rocky Patel, Romeo, Drew Estate, and many more. Other cigar products include cigar humidors, cigar boxes, and cigar accessories like Zippo Lighters.
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