noci grappa

The pairing between cigar and grappa

The paring between cigar and spirits is considered a real ritual now famous all over the world. Cuba, through the traditional “Sobremesa”, inspired and spread this type of matching. Sobremesa is a centuries-old custom of the Cuban population that provides relaxation after a heavy meal, smoking a cigar in combination with spirits or local liqueurs.

Before being able to deal with the topic of pairing between cigar and grappa, the topic on spirits will be introduced.

Definition and distillation techniques

A distillate, or spirit, is an alcoholic product derived from the distillation of a fermented sugar liquid that can be of vitivinicultural, cerelealicol, fruit and vegetable origin.
The distillation technique exploits the physical phenomenon whereby, thanks to the heat, any volatile substance can pass from the liquid to the gaseous state, and then return to liquid if it is cooled. This process takes place through the still, a copper device that allows to separate volatile substances based on their boiling point.
There are two distillation techniques:

  1. Discontinuous Distillation (Post-Still): It can perform only one distillation at a time.
  2. Continuous Distillation: Distillation takes place continuously and automatically 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The quality of the distillate is lower than with discontinuous distillation.


Grappa is the spirit, which is produced only in Italy, obtained from pomace of grapes grown and vinified in the peninsula, distilled and bottled by plants located on the national territory.

  • Grappa del Piemonte (Piemontese) e Grappa di Barolo.
  • Grappa della Lombardia (Lombarda).
  • Grappa del Friuli (Friulana).
  • Grappa del Trentino (Trentina).
  • Grappa dell’Alto Adige.
  • Grappa del Veneto (Veneta).

To which were added in 2007:

  • Grappa di Sicilia (Siciliana)
  • Grappa di Marsala.

The classification of Grappa

Grappa Giovane: maturation from 4 to 12 months in stainless steel.
Grappa Barricata: the word Barricata can be found on the label as long as the following cases are respected:

  • Maturation of 1 year of which 6 months in barrels for the Vecchia or Invecchiata category.
  • Maturation of 18 months of which 9 months in barrels for the Riserva or Stravecchia category.
    Grappa Vecchia o Invecchiata: Maturation of 1 year in wood.
    Grappa Riserva o Stravecchia: Maturation of 18 months in wood.

The pairing between cigar and grappa in detail

The high alcohol content in grappa is a real double-edged sword when paired with a cigar: The softness given by alcohol greatly amplifies the intensity of the cigar when smoking, however if the alcohol in the distillate is present in a excessive, its pungency will tend to completely overpower the cigar.

Pairing according to structure and persistence

As with other drinks, the pairing according for structure and persistence also applies to spirits. Here are some rules:

  • Cigars with a light body and not very persistent on the palate should be combined with poorly structured and persistent grappas, which have passed a short to medium maturation period in wood.
  • Medium-bodied and persistent cigars on the palate should be combined with medium-structured and persistent grappas, which have passed a medium-long period of aging in wood.
  • Full-bodied cigars, structured with a long persistence on the palate should be combined with full-bodied grappas, structured, with a long persistence, which have passed a long period of aging in wood.

What to avoid

There are small things that should be avoided during the pairing between the cigar and the spirits.
The excessive pungency present in clear spirits tends to overpower the cigar during the pairing. On the contrary, clear spirits with too neutral hints would be dominated by the cigar.
It is advisable to avoid pairing cigars with hints of roasting with spirit with smoked or peat hints. The bitter aftertaste of both products would cause an unpleasant sensation in the mouth.


In this article we have introduced the topic of pairing between cigar and grappa. After having clarified the definition of distillate and having dealt with the various types of distillation, we went into the pairing between cigar and grappa, enhancing the marriage through criteria of concordance on structure and persistence, finally giving some advice on what would be best avoided in order not to ruin the match between the two.


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Photo 5598375 from Pixabay

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.