Pairing Cigars & Alcohol – Zonin Cuvee 1821

Cigars and alcohol. Two luxury products that go hand in hand, and sometimes even meet on business level. Aging tobacco in whisky, rum, or cognac barrels is a practice several brands do to achieve extra flavour to the wrapper for certain lines. The famous bourbon brand Maker’s Mark has their own cigar, sold in tubes with the signature wax coating. Drew Estate works with Pappy van Winkle and used to make Kahlua cigars. General Cigars works with Sazerac, which resulted in Fireball cigars, Weller by Cohiba and collaborations with Buffalo Trace. And there is the Diesel Whisky Row, a collaboration with Rabbit Hole Distilleries. Fratello Cigars also sells craft beer. Most famous are probably the Cuban collaboration between Martell Cognac and Cohiba. Dominique London, the European retailer with more than 20 shops in the UK, Belgium, Switzerland and the Canary Islands takes it one step further. They bought a distillery in Wales and produce gin, rum, vodka and liquors, and bottle whisky.

There is a lot said about pairing wine and cigars. Many of the cigar makers are also big wine connoisseurs. People like Pete Johnson, Rocky Patel and Robert Levin (Ashton Cigars) for example, while others claim that the tannins in wine mix very badly with cigars. I used to be in the second group but I am converted. 2 years ago I attended a wine and cigar pairing with some fantastic Italian wines and now I enjoy wines with cigars. But even in the days when I opposed to pairing wines and cigars, I made one exception: sparkling wines, whether it was Champagne, Prosecco or Cava, sparkling wines always go well with a cigar.

 

Zonin Cuvee 1821

Recently I was thinking to myself “hey X, you have been writing about pairings with gin, vodka, rum, whisky and liqueurs, but never about wine while there are some nice cocktails with wine as well”. And I knew it had to be a sparkling wine. But the thing is, I am not knowledgeable when It comes to wines. You can ask my anything about cigars, I know a little about rum and whisky, but when it comes to wines, my knowledge is next to nothing. Luckily, I have a few friends who are in the wine industry as importers and distributors, so while hanging out after work with a cigar, I asked for recommendations for a decent sparkling wine that would not break the bank. I mean, I blog about cigars for a living so I am drinking on a budget. My friend, who specializes in Italian wines, recommended the Zonin Cuvee 1821. He said it that the price quality of this prosecco is fantastic and even pointed me to a retailer who was running a promotion at that time.

Zonin is a two century old winery from Italy and the Cuvee 1821 refers to the first year that the Zonin family produced wines. The grapes for this prosecco are grown in the Italian region of Veneto. It has an ABV of 11% and everywhere you look the Zonin Cuvee 1821 has positive reviews for an everyday prosecco. So exactly what I was looking for for this article.

Flute

There are two types of glassware that are suitable for sparkling wines, champagne flutes or coupes. I always preferred flutes and that’s what I have at home. I don’t have coupe glasses suitable for sparkling wine and so I tasted the Zonin Cuvee 1821 in a flute. On the nose this is a fruity wine with a slightly sour and fresh aroma. The fresh flavour is also available in the wine itself. A wine with 11% ABV by the way, so way lower than the spirits that I usually taste to pair with cigars. The flavours are summer fruits such as pear, apple and melon. The sparkle is not too aggressive what makes this a pleasant drink with a dryish mouthfeel. Because of the low ABV and the delicate and mild character of sparkling wine I would suggest a milder cigar. Something in the way of the Oliva Connecticut Reserva, Cuesta Rey Centenario, Indian Motorcycle Habano. For the Cuban smokers, maybe a Fonseca or a Por Larrañaga. I paired this with a Por Larrañaga Gran Robusto, the 2017 Edicion Regional Paises Bajos and that matched well

Champagne Cocktail

This cocktail dates back to the 1800s as the first written recipe was found in a book written by Jerry Thomas in 1862. And the good thing about this cocktail is that most likely you already have all the ingredients for this cocktail in your pantry anyway. There are many variations of this cocktail. Some replace the sugar cube with simple syrup, some add a dash of cognac or brandy but I chose the classic, original recipe for this article.

On the nose this cocktail has lemon and fruit. The fruit comes from the drink, the much stronger lemon comes from the garnish, a lemon twist. The cocktail gives a dry mouthfeel and some sweetness with lemon and fruit. The sugar and the bitters give this cocktail more depth and make it nicer than drinking the Zonin Cuvee 1821 on its own. There is more balance and because of the slowly dissolving sugar the cocktail gets sweeter along the way. I would pair this with a mild to medium bodied cigar. The Alec Bradley Coyol Petit Lancero comes to mind, or a Cohiba Siglo II.

And now for the Champagne Cocktail recipe:

1 sugar cube
2 to 4 dashes of Angostura bitter
Zonin Cuvee 1821 Prosecco
Lemon twist for garnish
Put a sugar cube in a bar spoon above the flute. Soak it with 2 to 4 dashed of Angostura bitters and drop it in the glass. Fill the glass with prosecco and garnish with a lemon twist.

Mimosa

This is probably the most famous sparkling wine cocktail in the world, named after the flowers of the mimosa plant, although that plant nor the flowers are ingredients of the cocktail. The cocktail has an unofficial holiday, national mimosa day, which is on May 16.

Due to the ratio of sparkling wine to orange juice, the drink smells like orange juice and tastes like orange juice. I really couldn’t taste the prosecco in this cocktail. Maybe a Buck’s Fizz would have been a better choice as the ratio sparkling wine to orange juice is 2:1 instead of the 1:1 in this Mimosa. But if you’re having a Mimosa, my suggestion is to go with a stronger and earthy cigar such as the EPC Pledge, Alec Bradley Prensado or the Montecristo #2.

And now for the Mimosa recipe:

6 ounces or 180ml of Zonin Cuvee 1821 Prosecco
6 ounces or 180ml of freshly squeezed orange juice.
Mix the two together in a champagne flute.

Tequila Sunrise Mimosa

To kick your mimosa game up a little, you can make the Tequila Sunrise Mimosa. That’s a combination of two world famous cocktails. And no matter if you like tequila, the looks of this cocktail is always very cool with the red and yellow colours.

The difference on the nose with the Mimosa is huge. Where the aroma on the Mimosa is purely orange juice, this Tequila Sunrise Mimosa clearly benefits from the tequila. The ethanol is quite strong over the orange juice aroma. The tequila also gives this cocktail character with a bit of a bite. Add in the freshness and tart of the orange juice, the fruitiness of the prosecco and the sweetness of the grenadine and this is one huge step up from a classic Mimosa. The tequila seems to bring the prosecco more to the surface as well. This will go well with a medium to full bodied cigar. I am thinking of an Arturo Fuente Añejo, a Sobremesa Short Churchill or a Padron 2000 Natural. Cuban wise, let’s go with the Punch Punch for this cocktail.
And now for the Tequila Sunrise Mimosa recipe:

1.5 ounces or 45ml of Tequila
1.5 ounces or 45ml of Zonin Cuvee 1821 Prosecco
3 ounces or 90ml of freshly squeezed orange juice

Dash of grenadine
Pour the tequila in the flute first, followed by the prosecco and top the glass up with orange juice almost to the top. Then add a splash of grenadine to create the sunset effect. You can garnish this with half an orange wheel if you like.

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