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The pairings in the world of cigar are a topic that can be defined as “sparkling”, both for professionals in the hospitality and beverage industry and for those who work closely in the tobacco world.

The topic of pairings to date is a theme mainly dealt with in the restaurant industry but has very ancient roots linked to the tradition of the various peoples of the world. The previous articles have explained the principles on which the pairing is based and its history from ancient Greece to today using food-wine marriage as a reference.

Does talking about pairings make sense in the world of tobacco?

To answer this question it is necessary to take a step back, trying to understand why tobacco is generally seen as a world in itself compared to that of food or alcoholic beverages.

The relationship between hospitality and tobacco

Certainly the anti-smoking laws issued by the vast majority of industrialized countries has not helped to maintain a strong link between the world of hospitality and catering with the world of tobacco by demonizing products such as cigars and pipes. This shows why many Sommeliers don’t take the study of tobacco into consideration today, mistakenly considering it as a niche sector and scarcely considered. However historically, tobacco has always been an integral part of tables laid both during and at the end of meals as a recreational act and it is therefore unthinkable to treat it as a world in its own right.

Different products, but very close to each other

It is good to remember that when it comes to sensory analysis, starting from food, ranging between drinks and various types of tobacco, there aren’t lower or higher categories of products; If we take the world of wine as an example and compare it with that of tobacco, we realize how the fundamental concepts are similar, starting from the production phase to tasting.

The pairings in the world of tobacco make perfect sense

When it comes to pairings, the cigar isn’t exception. It can be paired with drinks or even during meals, as in the famous rituals of the Cigar Dinner. Of course everything must be done with a valid criterion.
The pairing between cigar and drinks is frowned upon by many “purist” smokers as it unduly interferes with the taste-olfactory sensations in the smoke. Moreover, the cigar has its own evolution and progression that changes the taste of the smoke and cannot always marry optimally with the drink originally chosen.
The same principle also applies exactly to food, where the temperature of service of a dish during pairing can enhance certain characteristics rather than others. It can apply to wines and other alcoholic drinks, where different temperatures and serving glasses can completely change the taste experience during the pairing.
Each product changes according to certain conditions, and is a factor that must be taken into consideration in order to decrease a possible margin of error, but it’s not on this parameter that the success or otherwise of a pairing should be based, but on the characteristics of the product itself.
Some scenarios can be defined in which it is possible or not to consider the idea of ​​combining cigar and drinks.

Objective cigar tasting

Every sensory analysis professional knows that there must be certain conditions in order to correctly evaluate the characteristics of a product. It is clear therefore that in general when talking about an objective analysis of a cigar, no type of pairing is allowed as it would compromise the sensorial analysis of the product itself.

Enhance the cigar only in smoke

If you want to fully enhance a cigar during a smoke, it is right not to consider pairing if not exclusively with smooth or effervescent water.

Arbitrary pairing between cigar and drink

You can freely combine a cigar and a drink based simply on your imagination and personal taste. However, despite finding ourselves in a carefree and recreational contest, following well-defined rules, it is possible to create exciting and interesting combinations.

The pairing between cigar and drink in the hospitality industry

In the hospitality industry, figures such as the Sommelier have the task of experimenting and researching new types of pairings according to logical criteria, ranging between food, drinks and also between the various types of tobacco. These searches not only aim to improve the experience of a guest in the restaurant, but also to break down and renew obsolete preconceptions handed down between the various generations.
It should be remembered that the goal of the pairing is precisely to seek new sensations, and in order to do it naturally, certain characteristics that could be grasped during the tasting must be “sacrificed”. The balance and harmony given by the marriage of two products does not aim to capture the minimum nuances of the same but to create a set of pleasant sensations that in terms of recreational experience is unmatched, whether it is a pairing food-drink or cigar-drink.
The pairings between cigar and drinks is certainly a topic underestimated in many contexts but which can prove to be a winner in terms of a hospitality or recreational experience. Much work still needs to be done in terms of spreading and breaking down prejudices.

Conclusions

Tobacco, like any other product that comes from the land, deserves respect and it is unthinkable to separate it from the world of food and drink. When we talk about pairing between cigar and drinks, we must keep in mind what exactly we want to look for. It is certainly a new topic, still too little dealt with both in and outside the restaurant due to the anti-smoking laws of the last few years that have not helped the popularization of the world of tobacco, unlike for example alcoholic beverages. In general, if you want to enhance the cigar exclusively, it is not advisable to make parings, otherwise it is possible to proceed arbitrarily or following the rules that professionals in the world of hospitality propose to improve their recreational experience, without forgetting once again that curiosity it is the greatest source of inspiration.

 

Photo by Sean Benesh on Unsplash

Mirko Pastorelli

Sommelier professionista (ASPI Associazione Sommellerie Professionale Italiana) in sedia a rotelle pubblicato a livello internazionale con svariate esperienze nella ristorazione e nella organizzazione di eventi. Scrive di abbinamenti sigari - bevande su Gusto Tabacco.

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