Cigar, food, and alcohol pairings have been studied and examined for a long time. Each one brings something unique to your palate, and when properly paired, the experience can be truly unique, fascinating, and downright fantastic. However, entering the world of cigar pairing can be tricky - after all, entering the world of cigars alone is daunting to many. It doesn’t have to be too tricky, though. There are some general rules to follow that make it easier, allowing any cigar fan to take their experience to the next level. Here are a few things to keep in mind when pairing cigars with food and drink.
Find the Right Balance
To start with, remember that cigars, no matter where they fall on the robustness spectrum, are generally quite harsh compared to food and drink. As such, striking the right balance between the cigar and the dish/drink is generally tricky, though it’s not impossible. When it comes to drinks, avoid clear spirits. Even a superb vodka or gin will inevitably be overpowered by the cigar, and this holds true with milder cigars as well. It’s always a good idea to go with scotch, bourbon, or rum. The stronger profiles of these drinks stand up strong next to the strength of a cigar, especially scotch.
Light With Light, Dark With Dark
A common rule with just about any pairing, regardless of the presence of a cigar, is to start by pairing lights with lights and darks with darks. For example, fish and white wine or steak with red are common pairings that people love. When adding cigars to the mix, milder cigars tend to go better with lighter drinks and dishes, while heavier and more robust cigars pair nicely with heavier ones, like a peaty single-malt scotch. There are variations to this guideline and there are certainly exceptions, but for a beginner in the world of pairing, it’s a great starting point from which you can discover what you truly enjoy.
Follow Your Palate
Finally, no matter what, always follow your palate. You know your tastebuds better than anyone else - trust them. There are countless recommendations and they’re absolutely worth your attention, so don’t be afraid to try them. Similarly, simply follow your palate and decide for yourself what works and what doesn’t. No two cigar smokers have identical taste preferences, so take the time to explore different options and discover what you enjoy. Perhaps you’re a rum and robusto fan, or maybe a T-bone and a presidente. Regardless, use recommendations as a starting point, but don’t necessarily treat them as the end-all, be-all of cigar pairings.