Pairing Wine with More than Just the Turkey

Pairing Wine with More than Just the Turkey

A premium cigar paired with a fine wine will escalate your holiday and become your new Thanksgiving tradition.

Thanksgiving is for family, good friends, great food and… cigars. A premium cigar paired with a fine wine will escalate your holiday and become your new Thanksgiving tradition. Wine and cigars can be a tricky pairing as many wines maintain a delicate balance of body, flavor, and complexity that may be overwhelmed by a cigar.

Something to consider is that big bodied red wines typically pair better with richer smokes. Here are some suggested pairings for the holiday.

Pre-dinner, a bold red wine would offer an opportunity for a nice pairing such as a Californian Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, or Bordeaux.

#1. E.P Carrillo La Historia cigars are bound by an oily, dark-brown Mexican San Andrés wrapper, Ecuadorian Sumatra binder with finely aged Dominican and Nicaraguan long-filler tobaccos. This dark, box-pressed beauty was named the #2 Cigar of the Year in 2014 by Cigar Aficionado because it is simply outstanding. Present are notes of dark chocolate, black cherry, nuts and espresso that lace this full-flavored work of art. 

Cap the end of your meal with this and a rich and flavorful Cabernet Sauvignon and you’ll be in heaven. An impeccable selection would be a 2015 Rubus Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine begins with a very inviting aroma of beautiful blackberry and baking spice along with some plum and vanilla. Taking a sip reveals a delicious medium to full-bodied Napa Cab with a good dose of oak. Plenty of juicy blackberry, plum, and spice-laden fruit lead into the dry and very long finish which also features some chocolate notes. La Historia offers a perfect blending partner to the winemaker.

#2. Penfolds Koonunga Hill is a Shiraz-Cabernet blend which offers a great balance of berries, chocolate, and spices; these are traditional flavors that resemble the flavor profile of a Maduro cigar. Koonunga Hill is a great wine to enjoy by itself, paired with cheese, or with medium-to-full bodied cigars. The Oliva Serie O Habano Nicaraguan Maduro displays a spicy, complex profile with notes of rich cedar, spice, nuts and hints of cocoa and cherries. It will meld effortlessly with the Penfolds Koonunga Hill.

#3. I love Amarone with cigars because it has acid, tannin, lots of alcohol and tons of bold complex flavors. A serious, bold smoke that will stand up to Amarone della Valpolicella would make it shine. Tomasso Bussola Amarone Classico is floral, smokey, and earthy with tobacco, while still presenting sweet, lush cherries, plums and blackberries. Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial by My Father is a medium to full bodied cigar with enticing flavors of espresso, oak, black pepper with a dark, oily Maduro broadleaf wrapper providing sweetness. The flavor profiles of the cigar and the wine are an idyllic, decadent pairing.

Après dinner, you may pair a dessert wine such as tawny port with your favorite cigar.  

Tawny port with an indication of age is a blend that is aged in wooden casks for 10 to up 40 years. The year of bottling must be stated on the label; however each cuveé is made up of many "lots" of wine of various ages. The master blender strives to create a wine that, while unique, is consistent from year to year and from bottling date to bottling date. These wines can be extremely complex, with dried fruit character and varying degrees of nuttiness and woodiness. All tawny ports are ready to drink upon release.

#4. Tawny port holds up well with a cigar that has a medium body and a spicy profile. The Brick House Double Connecticut is comprised of Nicaraguan and Connecticut Broadleaf filler tobaccos that create an outstanding complex and flavorful smoke at a great price point. The Brick House Double Connecticut cigars are a medium bodied smoke with a nice balance of spice, sweetness and strength with a creamy smooth finish. You will be hard-pressed to find a more highly-awarded cigar than Brick House at these prices! Graham's Tawny Port 10 Year has a pale rusty amber color that holds a full bouquet of nuts and feels like crème brûlée in the glass. After a decade of care and slow oak-maturation, this wine is a wonderful example of the complex flavors of tawny port. When paired with the Brick House Double Connecticut, the softer volume of the cigar goes with the softer volume in the wine.

#5. Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series Maduro is full-bodied, smooth and rich, with hints of chocolate, spices, wood and coffee. This silky smoke burns perfectly with an emphasis on quality.  Dow’s late-bottled vintage port (LBV) is a big, muscular wine with powerful, peppery tannins. The full bodied wine has fine, floral aromas of violets with expressive ripe black fruit. The Maduro wraps tend to be spicy with black pepper. Dow’s excellent [LBV] port with its complexity and ripe black fruit will mellow out the spice from the Padron with sweetness. Exquisite, indeed!

Let’s talk turkey!

The most appropriate wine selection for your Thanksgiving meal is to pair the turkey and side dishes with a medium- to full-bodied wine (red or white) with a little sweetness, fruitiness and spiciness so that it brings something special to each part of the meal. Beaujolais Nouveau is a good choice for a crowded Thanksgiving table, because at $15, you can afford to buy several bottles. The French region of Beaujolais is known for light, fruity red wines from the Gamay grape that are meant to be drunk young. By French law, Beaujolais Nouveau, the fun, fruity, seasonal wine of the region, can be released no earlier than the third Thursday in November. Georges DuBoeuf Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau 2017 was a zesty, vibrant red, with juicy black cherry and black currant fruit and aromatic peach skin, pink peppercorn and marjoram notes. If the 2018 is just as good, it will pair perfectly with roasted turkey.

Even after offering suggestions in this article, one main principle still applies: the best wine/cigar pair is the one that you enjoy. Cheers!

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Pairing Wine with More than Just the Turkey

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