The Chemistry Between Wine and Cigars Ron Barker, owner of CigarVolante, started out selling cigars at Renaissance and Wine Festivals, and noticed that when he talked to people about the characteristics of cigars they didn’t quite understand. But when he began asking people what characteristics they liked in their wines, there was a resonance. “It was a language they understood.” Drinking wine and smoking cigars offer similar aesthetics, he described. “They marry a combination of sensations: the wine’s bouquet, the cigar’s room aroma, the feel of a dry wine or a rich smoke in the mouth, and the complex flavors as they play upon the palate.” “I describe cigars in the more elegant and flowery descriptions that liken to wine flavors: chocolate, coffee, floral notes, grassiness, etc.,” he said. People recognize what they like in their particular wine and choose the cigar that matches it, but doesn’t compete. Refer to his flavor descriptors on his website and at area wineries. Barker offers an example of how even white wine works with this chemistry. “Imagine brushing your teeth then drinking orange juice. The taste is acidic. Most cigars are alkaline, like toothpaste, and if you drink white wine with one, the acidity creates bitterness. I have a cigar whose wrapper is acidic, and when you smoke it, it makes your mouth more acidic, balancing the acid and bringing out the underlying fruit flavors of white wine.”
The Virginia Wine and Cigar Trail™ Barker founded The Virginia Wine and Cigar Trail™ to promote the marriage between Virginia wine and cigars. “I noticed that the wine trails offered a way of grouping, categorizing and marketing a group of wineries in the same geographical area, so I created a virtual trail that shows our members on a map,” Barker said. Today, the Trail features more than 25 wineries, breweries and distilleries. Find the map at www.vawineandcigar.com. “It’s more difficult nowadays for cigar smokers to find places to smoke,” he continued. “The wineries we’ve paired with are typically located in the country, have lots of space around them, and are looking for ways to get people to stay for a while. They provide a separate smoking area, ideal for cigar smokers.” In addition, Barker participates in events at area wineries, working closely with winemakers to pair their wines with his cigars for an interactive presentation. “We talk about why the pairing works, and participants get to enjoy their wine and cigars.”
Potomac Point holds yearly spring and fall cigar and wine events. “As cigars and wine varietals change, we continue to pair them up properly.” The winery also offers a port and cigar bar option for weddings.
Cigars and Wine Stores Some area wine stores, like Classic Wines of Great Falls, also offer cigars. Owner Richard Ashton carries about 50-70 cigar selections from around the world in his humidor. “It’s our second biggest selling item after wine.” He believes there is a cigar to match any wine palate, from bold reds to lighter whites and rosés, and since he personally samples his various cigars, he can assist customers with their selections. “I started smoking them myself so I could tell my customers about them,” he said, defining their characteristics with words like “smoky” or “spicy.” “It’s my job to mitigate the risk of your purchase with wine and cigars,” Ashton continued. “I want my customers to be happy, so I stand behind my products.” Like many mysteries, a series of clues leads to a fulfilling end. Pay attention to the characteristics in your favorite wines, and use your natural abilities of taste to find the perfect combination of cigars and wine for your palate. v
RESOURCES The Virginia Cigar and Wine Trail RWBarker@CigarVolante.com www.vawineandcigar.com Potomac Point Winery 275 Decatur Road, Stafford, VA 22554 540-446-2266 www.potomacpointwinery.com Classic Wines of Great Falls 9912-C Georgetown Pike Great Falls, VA 22066 703-759-0430 www.classicwinesgreatfalls.com AUTHOR: Viva Tysons Wine Editor Linda Barrett enjoys experiencing Virginia’s wine culture. When she’s not holding a glass, she runs All the Buzz, a creative agency for copywriting, websites and PR, www.allthebuzz.net.
Cigars and Wineries Potomac Point Winery dedicated Humidor Hill for its cigar smokers. “We designed the hilltop space for its views into our vineyards, and offer cigars and port wine,” explained wine club manager Michele Patterson. “We get to smoke and drink—it’s a fun thing—and it draws gentlemen and couples who like to smoke cigars together into the winery for the camaraderie as well as the experience.” She recommends using the techniques of aroma and feel to make a cigar selection. “How do you like your wine—refreshing, tannic, heavy body?” she asks. “We then use these profiles to direct our visitors to a cigar flavor they will like.”
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Published on Jan 1, 2016