There’s no better way to relax than a plate of good food, a stiff drink, and an after-meal cigar. However, it’s easy to eat or drink something that clashes heavily with the flavor of the cigar you’re smoking, and vice versa. So what’s the best way to optimize each experience? How do you know which cigar pairs best with what foods and drinks? We’re here to help!

When pairing cigars with food, the goal is to enhance both experiences – the food and the flavor. This means that the flavors should complement each other rather than oppose or overpower one another.

White wine should be paired with lighter cigars such as those with a Connecticut wrapper. I recommend a glass of Chardonnay, as it’s less sweet than other white wines and won’t offset the sweet flavors in the cigar. Remember that white wine goes best with lighter meals. The perfect meal to go with a Connecticut wrapper and a glass of Chardonnay is fish. Trying grilling some tilapia with fresh veggies and chilling the wine for the perfect way to enjoy a relaxing evening sitting in your backyard watching the sunset.

Red wine, on the other hand, should be paired with heavier cigars such as those with a Maduro wrapper. I recommend a glass of the Syrah variety, as it’s hearty and spicy flavor will pair well with a full bodied and complex cigar. Remember that red wine goes best with heavier meals. The perfect meal to go with a Maduro wrapper and a glass of Syrah is steak, simply prepared. Marinate your steak (I prefer tri tip) in some soy sauce, olive oil, and lemon juice and throw it in the oven for a delicious compliment to your red wine and bold cigar.

If you have a sweet tooth, unfortunately desserts don’t generally pair well with cigars except for a dark chocolate, as the bitterness pairs well with the sweeter smoke.

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