Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

Like a fine wine, there's an art to appreciating a good cigar

The love of fine wine and cigars is a long-standing tradition...
Il Sigaro della Sera
The love of fine wine and cigars is a long-standing tradition. Many Italians will have fond memories of a father, grandfather or uncle taking time out from their day to enjoy a glass of chianti and accompanying after-dinner cigar.

Wine and cigars have much in common, making them great companions. Both take time to cultivate, have their characteristics influenced by the environment in which they grow and rely on the art of both the harvester of the crop, and craftsmanship of the maker to ensure they reach their potential.

There are similarities in the way they are enjoyed too. Both depend on the characteristics of flavor and scent. These along with visual appeal, and a lingering sensation, deliver their pleasure, helping those enjoying them decrypt their stories.

Here are a few pointers to help you get more out of enjoying a cigar:

Impact – The first thing you’ll notice when drawing on a cigar. The smoke that reaches the lips passes the leaves, so the flavor they give it will vary wildly depending on the type of leaf and how they are prepared.

Balance – A good cigar will have balance – meaning the impact will be consistent most of the way through the smoke. (Unless the cigar has an elliptical shape – like the Toscano – creating greater intensity when the burn reaches the center.)

Taste – The experience of the smoke that lingers. The taste of a cigar is measured in three ways – intensity (the breadth and strength of the flavors), persistence (how long they linger) and flavor (the flavors themselves – applying to both taste and aroma).

Ideally, a smoker will try and pair their cigar with the wine they drink. It will be a different match for everyone. Cigar smokers enjoy their smoke at different speeds – their puffing pace. This has an effect on how long the smoke and flavors linger, in turn influencing the intensity of a wine that should be chosen (usually red). Whichever wine you choose, be sure not to take a sip too soon after a puff or you’ll wash away the flavors of the cigar too soon.

So experiment until you find the combination that works for you. After all, exploration is half the fun.