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"I would like to start by saying that when I am looking for a fine cigar and in a hurry, the Tinder Box is the place to go. I have slowly worked my way through most of the brands that my local Tinder Box has in stock and I haven't come across a bad one yet, only the finest."

Russell K.
Sycamore, IL

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Wine, Food & Cigar Pairings

Too often people treat the pairing of foods with wines, and eventually cigars with an unnecessary level of snobbery. Many of us are frequently intimidated, especially when sitting amongst our 'Black Ink' reading, Centurion Card carrying friends. The truth of the matter is that apart from this small group of people, we are all of limited means in one way or another. Some of us are of limited income, some putting children through college, even some of us trying to get the money together for that yacht or Rolls or perhaps just trying to make ends meet. This leaves us with limited budgets for some of the other luxuries in life. The first thing we would like to state out loud is you do not have to spend large sums of money to have truly enjoyable wines, cigars, or even foods for that matter. Your small local wine shop (stay away from the grocery stores whenever possible), and your tobacconist have many affordable products that can truly be a joy to smoke or drink. Several of my favorite cigars are quite affordable, in the six to eleven dollar range and I'm in a 35% wholesale tax state. Let your wine retailer and tobacconist lead you to some of these true value items, expand your horizons into these boutique producers, and we are sure your palate will be truly pleased.

On pairing

As a beginning rule of thumb, wine salespeople are first taught: White wine = chicken, fish, white pasta Red wine = red meat, red pastas While there is some truth in this, let us not get too rigidly bonded to this concept. When pairing cigars, we are often originally taught: White wine = light bodied cigar Red wine = full bodied cigar Once again some root in fact, but let us not consider it the 12th commandment.

The only thing that is paramount when pairing foods, wines, and cigars is your enjoyment. We will discuss some pairing suggestions later in this article, but for now remember it is important to broaden our horizons and try new things, new pairings, but when all is said and done: Did you like it? Do you enjoy this pairing?
We drink wine and smoke cigars for the taste, the experience, the love of them. If we merely wanted to get blotto, cheap whiskey would oblige us more quickly. If we simply wanted to get nicotine, cheap cigarettes would serve us more effectively. Since this is all for the enjoyment, while we have suggestions on where to start when pairing:
Break all the rules when necessary to enjoy these products, be open about it, be open about why you are doing it, and you will find much less in the way of grief from your peers.
Let us first evaluate our pairings of wine with foods.
A dry rose pairs very well with veal or antelope carpaccio, but can also be a tremendous companion to everything from a simple iceberg salad to its big siblings, salads of mixed greens even with proccutio or steak or nearly any other meats or fish. If its slightly sweet and acidic rose, we may even try this with some spicy Asian foods or nearly all the same salad combinations, and in this day and age of increasingly healthier diets this we believe brings rose to an even more important role in America . Roses also serve tremendously as a light wine for social hour prior to a heavy meal, and can help to create a wonderful atmosphere as your family or guests socialize prior to a sit down.
There is an outstandingly large number of cigars that fit well with roses, my prime counsel to you being simply to avoid those cigars of full body, primarily just to keep from beating your rose into submission, creating a small version of the Gaza Strip in your mouth, and leaving you unable to truly appreciate the wine as you enjoy your cigar.
White wines (and in this aspect similar to rose wines) are often unappreciated by men, we might think due to the fact that some view red wine to be more masculine. We must throw away these tendencies, and bring back the versatility of many whites to our tables. As we stated earlier, whites go well with many of our lighter foods. We must be careful as we select the white wine though. While some may not be a great fan of the sweeter wines such as Rieslings, pairing a very dry and buttery chardonnay with spicy Chinese cuisines will leave us& well disappointed. However even those that perhaps don't like a big buttery chardonnay will most likely appreciate it when paired with lobster or crab legs with drawn butter. we also often find the middle ground whites such as sauvignon blanc, verdejo, and many others to be reasonable fits in a pinch, or for those that are disinterested in fruitier or dryer wines. To find the perfect fit for you, you will most likely have to experiment a bit. In pairing cigars with white wines, try to look for those cigars that will compliment your given wine well. Here again as with the roses, most likely we will not want to place a full bodied cigar with a very light and delicate white. we have found though that a fuller bodied Riesling Kabinett as an example can handle quite a bit of cigar, and am often found guilty with a glass of Strub Kabinett in one hand and a Bucanero Salsa in the other.
As we move into red wines, we can remember from earlier in this article wine staff is early taught: reds=red meats, but at the same time we wouldn't really want to pair a very sweet lambrusco with a buffalo roast if we had a dryer wine (perhaps a nice cotes du rhone) available to us. Light reds can also sift over into a good portion of the foods many people would reserve for white wines. Great examples of this are salmon, chicken (especially when heavily seasoned or blackened), and game birds. We also find that many mid range reds work quite well with pizzas and red pasta dishes. If we follow a basic guide of placing our lighter bodied cigars (Bucanero Windjammer, Ashton Cabinet, etc.) with our lighter bodied red wines (Nero d'Avolo, Pinot Noir, etc.), and our fuller bodied cigars (La Flor Dominicana Oscuro, Rocky Patel Edge Maduro, Joya de Nicaragua Lancero, etc.) with our fuller bodied reds (Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Malbec, etc.) we can then branch out and experiment with tweaking those to perfectly suit our own personal tastes. Some are particularly fond of mixing an Arturo Fuente Extra Viejo with a nice dry Bordeaux .
There is one more wine type I would like to discuss that has been nearly condemned in the US to a position where it is ignored except for the most special of occasions. Champagnes and sparkling wines are a nearly perfect for all those times when you are at a loss for what to pair with a given meal or cigar. They serve will with light foods, are still capable of being a great companion even to a filet mignon, and they stand well alone. You can pair them with nearly any cigar, and they have the power to make even the most mundane of meetings feel absolutely luxurious.
As you experiment with placing different dishes with wines and cigars, I wish you as much enjoyment from them as I have found, and will leave you with just one final statement: Don't forget the beer and spirits!!!
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