Pairing Port & Madeira with Cigars

Matthieu Delaunay | April 26 2017 | 0 Comments

Port and Madeira wines are Cuban leaves best friends. The complexity, power yet elegance and smoothness delivered by the fortified wines offer a great combination with cigars.

The best pairing depends on the style and the strength, but also on the acid level, the relative sweetness and the maturity of the wine.

It is important to choose a cigar and a wine of relative similar strength so that neither one overwhelms the other. If the cigar is too powerful it may smoothen the wine too much leading to a lack of dimension. If the wine is too big it may dilute the intensity of the tobacco flavors.

A young Vintage Port exhibits pure primary fruits with strong tannins good level of acidity and plenty of freshness. It is a full bodied, rich and powerful Port that requests a similar level of power and strength. Quinta do Vesuvio 2013
a young and vibrant Single Quinta VP pairs well with one of the best Churchill, a Cohiba Esplendido.

With time, the level of acidity in a Vintage Port decreases, tannins soften and the fruit mellows. The wine keeps its richness but gains in complexity and elegance. With a 20 over yo Vintage Port such as Graham's VP 1994, one can recommend a medium to full bodied cigar such as Partagas 8-9-8, a very elegant and complex Lonsdale.

Aged Tawny and Colheita Ports due to their prolonged time spent in barrel are less rich but smoother than Ruby Ports. The acid levels are also higher. Very old Tawny - Colheita Ports and more specifically those that have been aged in the Douro deliver positive lifted volatile acidity. The fresh acidity and the sweetness combined, help to cleanse the palate and to prevent excessive dryness in the mouth.
The complex oxidative notes such as dried fruits, leather, nuts are reminiscent of great Cuban cigars providing a memorable moment of pleasure when combined together. Younger Tawny Ports can match more powerful cigars, while old Colheita Ports should be associated with milder cigars and Vintage cigars. Our Kopke 1965 SG50 Sp. Edition, cask #11640 pairs very well with a H. Upmann No 2 Reserva. 

White Ports aged in barrel are generally medium to full bodied with medium to medium + acidity and can be vinified dry to sweet. Delivering complex notes of citrus, white stone fruits, exotic fruits, light spices as well as hints of dry fruits and nuts, aged White Ports can pair a large range of cigars. We find the beautiful Dalva White Colheita Port 1963 to be a superb match with a classic Cohiba Behike 54. The Dalva is rich and silky with enough power and complexity to balance the character of the Grand Robusto.

Cigar and Madeira wine is perhaps the ultimate association. Madeira wines are characterised by their sharp acidity and high level of dry extract. The prolonged aging in cask under attics concentrates the wine and increase the oxidation, developing unique notes of furniture store, beeswax, nuts, dry fruits and caramelised sugar combined with smokiness and saltiness.

Sercial and Verdelho go well with light and medium weight cigars. We found the D'Oliveira Sercial Vintage 1969 to be a great match with Hoyo de Monterrey, Hoyo de San Juan.

The sweeter and richer Madeira grapes, Boal and Malvasia pair easily with most medium to full bodied cigars.

Very old Vintage Madeira shall be served with the finest aged cigars. A D'Oliveira Verdelho Vintage 1850 and a Partagas Lusitania Gran reserva 2007 for instance is a terrific combination.