Wine and Cigars: Smoke Em If You Ve Got Em
My experience with cigars is, shall we say, limited. I seem to recall that my high school buddies and I bought the occasional four- pack of Swisher Sweets from Johnnie's Carryout in Beavercreek (which is still there and open for business) to smoke on Saturday night at the Belmont Auto Drive-In movie theater (which isn't).
I've puffed on a handful of luxury, premium cigars in recent years, but didn't find the experience at all pleasing, and it certainly didn't enhance my subsequent appreciation of wine. Quite the opposite.
Do I miss the days of trying to taste wines amidst the fragrant blue haze of the Arrow Wine & Spirits Far Hills winetasting bar (a few short steps from Arrow's smoke shop) before the smoking ban was implemented? I do not.
But I must be in the distinct minority, based on what I've read and heard out of our local wine and spirits purveyors. Organizers of the Jungle Jim's International Wine Festival proudly proclaim the fact they'll have "an outdoor area for premium cigar smoking" at their event, and the folks behind Sidebar, the new wine bar and cocktail lounge in downtown Dayton, say they will sell cigars from an in-house humidor, for smoking on the bar's spacious patio.
Now, I don't mean to imply I don't have the utmost respect for cigar smokers. Some of my best friends are cigar smokers. Some even still speak to me despite the fact I've posted entries on Uncorked (www.daytondailynews.com/ wineblog) with headlines such as "Wine + Cigars = Blech" and "A cigar that 'complements' wine? Yeah, when monkeys fly."
But when I posed the question to Uncorked readers, "Do wine and cigars mix?" I got an earful. Most disagreed with me.
"I enjoy port and substantial reds with cigars," wrote a reader named Tim. "There is a marriage of the flavors that is not unlike what happens when matching wine and foods -- a sum greater than the parts."
Linda agreed, enthusiastically. "I have been pairing, yes pairing, wine and cigars for about 15 years. It is the same as pairing food with wine. It has to be the right combination."
She added, however, that "standing in a room of smoke is not fun. Cigars and wine belong outside."
Rolando told me off: "Why would you comment on pairing wine with cigars when you dislike cigars? ... I personally don't think wine and prime rib mix well. Of course, I dislike prime rib."
A reader who called himself "Mr. Reindeer" said he was a bit apprehensive the first time he paired a red wine with a cigar. But, "I FREAKING loved it. I'm not sure what took my so long to try it. And I'm not sure why or how, but the cigar made the wine taste (for me anyway) like a heavy, delicious, silky $50 Amarone or something of the like."
So, apparently, I've been missing out on one of life's greatest pleasures.
And will continue to do so.
WINE LESSON OF THE WEEK: A bottle of white wine (Oregon pinot gris, to be specific), kept in a refrigerator that loses its power on a Sunday afternoon, has reached its optimum serving temperature by Monday evening. Absolutely ideal, right out of the fridge. Of course, I don't want to try it again anytime soon. Nor do I want to drink a white wine that has been in a powerless fridge for seven days, six hours -- but who was counting, right?
Friday, October 03, 2008