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When it comes to cigars and food pairing, some cigar enthusiasts are totally behind it, while others are not. If you’re someone who happens to enjoy smoking a premium cigar and you have a love for fine food, then the tips in my guide while help you find the perfect pairing for your next meal and smoking experience. Learning how to pair your meal with the right cigar can change how you smoke forever. While there are many smokers who don’t believe in smoking while eating, those that do and have tried pairing their cigars with their food will tell you, that it’s a totally new smoking experience, and when done correctly, will enhance the flavor of your meal and your finest cigar.

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The Right Time to Smoke

If you’re eager to get started, begin with a cigar that you normally smoke and then start experimenting. You’ll need a premium cigar, with a strength that should be based on the type of food you’ll be preparing, a good cigar ashtray, cutter, and lighter, and a nice wine that will go with the meal.  Experimenting with new combinations is one of the best parts of the experience.

But when should you smoke? Before a meal? During a meal? Right after a meal? If you want to pair food and cigars, then I recommend smoking during a meal. This is the only way you can enjoy both flavors at the same time. Some cigar smokers believe that if you smoke before a meal, it can have a negative impact on your taste buds. Many smokers will enjoy a fine cigar after a meal, but when it comes to pairing, when you smoke once you’re done eating, the flavor of the cigar and the meal won’t really matter in terms of whether they can complement one another. This guide is about smoking while you eat and how doing so can give your taste buds a thrill like they’ve never experienced before.

Choosing the Perfect Cigar

As a serious cigar smoker, you may choose only the finest cigars, the best cigar humidor, and enjoy your time smoking after a long day at the office, but many cigar enthusiasts take it a step further and attempt to combine their favorite smoke with one of their favorite meals. Some smokers can’t imagine eating and smoking at the same time, or smoking immediately before or after a meal, while others firmly believe that adding a fine cigar to the mix can do wonders in terms of enhancing both smoking and enjoying a special meal.

When you’re searching for the perfect cigar to go with your meal or the right meal that will go well with your favorite blend, make sure you pair your cigar with food you already like. The cigar and food should complement each other. The goal is to have the flavors of each enhance one another, instead of overpowering each other. Basically, you need to find the right balance.

As an example, smoking a Corona combined with the zesty flavor of Mediterranean food can be the perfect blend as the flavor of the veggies, olives, and cheese, combined with a piece of grilled fish can offset each other beautifully. This is the perfect combination for an evening meal in the summer.

For a heavy meal, such as steak and potatoes, you’ll want to choose a full-bodied cigar, such as a Maduro.

As you can see, pairing food and cigars often follows the same general rule when it comes to cigar pairing that involves cigars and liquor. A white wine will complement a mild cigar, or a light dish, whereas a red wine is a better choice for a full-bodied cigar or a heavier meal. However, when it comes to pairing, there really are no fast and hard rules to follow. Top shelf liquor is full of complexities and subtleties just as any quality cigar is. Keep in mind, the goal isn’t to enjoy a good meal with a good cigar, it’s to enhance both.

Barbeque

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Cigars and food pairings are an all-time favorite of the cigar lover. If you love barbeque and want the perfect cigar that will complement your meat, then go for a stronger, full-bodied cigar. Barbeque meat is either sauced or dry-rubbed, so the flavors tend to be very tangy, spicy, peppery, and rich. The type of cigar you select will need to have the flavor and body profile that can stand up and cut through those intense flavors. Even a medium-bodied cigar can easily be overwhelmed by a stronger tasting food.

Italian

Italian food includes sweet sauces and tasty seasoned meat. Because of this, you don’t want to choose a cigar that’s very full-bodied or too strong because both the cigars and Italian food is all about the diverse mix of sweet and mild tastes. You will need to keep the strength of the food’s flavor in mind. Many cigar smokers recommend choosing a medium-bodied cigar that possesses some natural sweetness in order to complement the flavor of the meal perfectly. There are also many spices and herbs involved with this type of food, so choosing the perfect cigar to smoke can significantly enhance the richness of each dish.

Seafood

Seafood offers a ton of flavor, but it’s not very heavy on the palate. This means that the cigar you choose should be the same. Avoid a full-bodied cigar here, which can very well ruin the taste of this type of delicate food. Shrimp and lobster are very sweet, while fresh salmon, despite its oiliness, also offers a sweet profile. Mussels and clams are typically accompanied by sweet red sauce or butter. Because of this, you’ll want to pair them with a cigar that also offers a naturally sweet flavor and aroma. Be sure to choose a cigar that features a mild flavor and go for a blend that holds up with and stands out with the type of seafood you enjoy.

Steak

It doesn’t matter if you plan on eating some steak after, during, or before you smoke. You will want the strong flavor of the cigar and the spiciness to go with the strongly flavored, rich steak. If you decide to go with a mild cigar, the steak will easily overpower the flavor. A full-bodied cigar will be the perfect choice here.

Having a Hard Time Choosing the Right Food?

If you’ve done a little experimenting and still haven’t found flavors that complement each other, don’t give up. The easiest way to choose the right food to eat with your cigar is to go back to the basics. If you’ve been trying to pair your smoke with an ethnic dish you’ve never tried before, this was your first mistake. Try some of your favorite foods, those that you’re familiar with, determine what the strongest flavor is and go from there.

If you want to start out small, then try a snack instead of an entire meal. As an example, create a tray of cheese, crackers, and olives and pair it with the right cigar. Smoked meats such as pepperoni, salami, and sauces will all go well with a medium to full-bodied cigar.

What to Avoid Trying

Most cigar smokers can agree that the one type of food that you want to avoid trying to pair a cigar with is sweet foods of any kind. Desserts and cigars just do not go together. While you may enjoy eating a big piece of pie you definitely don’t want to try eating it while you smoke. Most desserts just do not taste good when you add tobacco into the mix, regardless of cigar sizes and flavors.

If you’re one of those smokers that just has to light up after a meal, then the cigar is most likely used as a replacement for dessert once you’ve finished a heavy meal. If you don’t enjoy smoking and eating at the same time, you’re not alone. Additionally, it’s always better to smoke on a full stomach than an empty one. Even if you don’t inhale when you smoke, on an empty stomach, the high level of nicotine can make the smoker feel nauseous. So, if you don’t want to smoke while you eat, at the very least, make sure you avoid smoking before a meal and wait to light up until you’ve finished a heavy meal.

Final Thoughts

Cigar and food pairing is all about having fun and pairing the right meal with the best premium cigar. Once you get the hang of identifying a meal’s most dominant flavor, whether mild, hearty, sweet, or bold, you can easily check out cigars that will complement these types of flavors and work to enhance the flavor or your meal. When you do end up choosing the right pairing, you’ll be encouraged to try your hand at pairing more meals with your favorite blends and share your experience with your friends and family. Many cigar smokers believe that pairing foods and cigars is an art form of sorts, so don’t be disappointed if you’re not able to find the perfect pairing with your first few attempts. This experience is all about having fun, enjoying trying new cigars and different foods and feeling victorious when you finally manage to make a home run.