Cigar Pairings: Chocolate and Wine
As Valentine’s day approaches, we at Ralphs have decided to switch up our usual pairing for something a bit more unusual, but no less delicious. Nothing says a day of love like chocolate and wine, and when you throw cigars in the mix? It gets that much better. We want to give you some options for fantastic pairings, and that means walking you through some cigars with natural notes of cocoa and chocolate, and perhaps some dark fruit that complement all manner of the most romantic of drinks.
So how do we get cigars that taste like chocolate? There are a number of different methods to achieve tasty natural notes, from the region, to the harvest, and beyond. The growing region will affect both taste and aroma- this means aspects like quality of soil, nutrient density, amount of sun, and average rainfall will elevate or subtract from a cigar’s chocolatey flavor or aroma. To improve and specify the taste we can follow through the harvesting and curing aspect. For example, If a wrapper tobacco leaf is harvested earlier in the plants lifespan, it has less time for the sun to transform the tobacco into a stronger smoking experience. The earlier the harvest, the sweeter the cigar. If your cigar has a dark maduro wrapper(grown dark and harvested early), it will likely feature smooth chocolate notes.
Our first choice for a pairing starts with CAO’s very own BX3, with a dark and oily Brazilian Mata Fina wrapper that brings a flavorful and intense depth. It is bound in a separate Brazilian leaf, the Arapiraca, to a blend of more Mata Fina and other premium filler tobaccos from Nicaragua, Honduras, and Mexico. This creates an almost overpowering flavor that tastes of espresso, chocolate, and dark molasses. For such a flavorful cigar, an equally flavorful wine is needed- something that can keep pace in both taste and intensity. Enter the Cabernet Sauvignon, the world's most popular red wine. And for a reason- though nearly every brand has taken a turn at this wine, the vast majority give a drink with strong notes of black cherry and plum, and its affinity for oak combined with its heavy tannins mean a wine that is rich and dark and perfectly balanced against an intense smoke like the BX3.
For a slightly lighter cigar, the El Rey Del Mundo Oscuro will still give you a medium-bodied smoke that’s just as full of chocolatey flavor. After unwrapping the gold band and tissue that encloses the dry, toasted Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper you will light up on a spicy, mocha taste that keeps hints of dried fruit, while only building on the chocolate as you smoke. It’s bound and filled with smooth Honduran tobacco for an even more intense flavor. While above, with the BX3 and Cabernet Sauvignon we paired complementary tastes that build on each other, sometimes a contradictory taste will give you an even more exciting experience. For the Oscuro, we like to pair something lighter, with a stronger sweetness that will give you a wide breadth of flavor. That's why we have chosen a Rosé Champagne: the sparkling intensity will accent and showcase the intensity of the Honduran leaf, while the sweet and fruity taste will contradict and exemplify the chocolatey cedar taste.
Joya De Nicaragua Antaño cigars are among the strongest and spiciest available on the market today, and were rated one of the best cigars of 2022. While its full body comes from the peppery, leathery Nicaraguan H. Criollo wrapper and the pure Nicaraguan Binder and Filler, we are interested in what lies beneath- notes of toasted almond, chocolate, and hazelnut. Giving this robust and flavorful cigar a moment will unveil the complexity that hides behind the intense first draw. Its thick, oily wrapper unfolds a great smoke with a wonderful aroma that eases into a long finish. Switching back around to a complementary pairing we think that such a spicy and intense cigar deserves a wine with just as much gusto and flavor. A Spanish red is bold enough, with a strong dry taste to pair. They generally taste of chocolate and black plum, with a spicy black pepper taste that merges perfectly with the spicy of the Antaño.
Our last two pairings of the day come from Ralph himself, as a part of a special Valentine’s day pack. The Cordial Cognac Pack, which includes our wildly popular Strawberry Cognac Cigar, also includes two chocolate sticks that will pair perfectly with some deeply sweet wines. The first, our Chocolate Cherry Cognac, melds dark fruit and milk chocolate perfectly, for a rich, sweet cigar that burns with flavor all the way to the cap. Pour a glass of a dark ruby port for a complementary pairing that is sure to delight. The Ports cherry and blackberry notes will match the cigars cherry taste perfectly, while its complex and spicy palate is sure to meld with the chocolate for a sweet dessert pairing guaranteed to leave you satisfied. The final cigar, our very own Vanilla Fudge, has a wonderful combination of vanilla and chocolate that blends together into a light fudge taste that gives a rich sweetness throughout. Pairing this stick with a light wine like a Riesling will bring out the dark notes of the cigar without losing any of the sweetness, and its high acidity will complement any of the spicier notes you may find in the cigar.
Chocolate and wine are a classic pairing, and as you plan your Valentine’s day adding a delicious cigar into the mix, whether natural or infused, is sure to elevate your evening to the next level. Join Ralph and the rest of us here at Ralph’s Cigars in celebrating love this winter- most importantly, the love of a quality cigar and people to share it with.