Cigar and Wine Pairings: La Aurora 107 and Gnarly Head Zin

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Cigar and Wine Pairings: La Aurora 107 and Gnarly Head Zin

This Guest Article was provided by our friend Matt Horbund of A Good Time With Wine. After reading this article and watching the video, be sure to head over to A Good Time With Wine for more wine related videos and information.

Smoking a cigar means different things for different people. For some, it’s a ritual, the way they start the day, or end it. For others, it’s a social thing, something they do with friends as a way to share conversations and stories. For others, it’s a representation of enjoying some of the finer things in life, a good meal, good wine, a good cigar. For me, it’s all of those things, depending on the situation. It falls into the finer things in life, and pairing a good cigar with a good bottle of wine is the best ritual I know for ending the day. When I meet other cigar lovers, our conversation often falls to what to drink when you smoke a cigar. I’m a huge fan of Single Malt Scotch, and frequently find it in my glass when I’m lighting up. However, my passion is wine, and with the huge assortment of different wines available, I love the endless pairings that are possible.

When I set out to do this review, I wanted to find a fun cigar that would be fairly widely available. This would then be paired with a nice wine that would also be widely available, and we’d be off to the races. When I asked what was new and exciting, my local tobacconist brought me the La Aurora 107. Described as a medium bodied smoke with some good spice, I thought it would be a nice stick to pair with some wine. I selected the Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel.

Though the video explains why I selected the Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel, I’ll recap it here along with the cigar. I believe that you should avoid dry wines when you smoke a cigar. The cigar will already have a dying affect on your palate, adding a wine that does the same will not produce an enjoyable experience. Tannic wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or even some heavily oaked Pinot Noir, would be those wines to avoid. The tannins, which come from the grape, as well as the oak barrels the wine age in, will produce that drying, puckering sensation in your mouth. Zinfandel, though oak aged, can have a similar effect, though this certainly varies from producer to producer. However, the Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel, widely available for about $10, is made with vines that range from 35 to 80 years, and produce more intense fruits that add a jammy plum and raisin note to the wine.

The Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin has nice round fruit flavors, those plums and raisins I mentioned above. It also has a great spice component, which when paired with the spice from the La Aurora 107, really works well together. I felt the La Aurora was a tad light on the spice, and that was a little disappointing. I was hoping to have the spice throughout the cigar, and it really faded in the middle and end. There was also some green herb or grass on the cigar that I wasn’t anticipating. I don’t mind green notes, and often look for wines that have them, but I was expecting a little more leather and earth from this cigar than green. It would probably benefit from aging.

Take some time to watch the short video, and let me know what you think. At the end I mentioned a few ideas for my next video post here on Stogie review. I’d love to know what your questions about wine and cigar pairings are. You can leave comments here, and I’ll definitely follow up. You can also come visit A Good Time With Wine and check out some of my other wine reviews, and television segments. I’d love to know what your wine questions are.

Until next time, Cheers

enjoying cigars since 2005

8 thoughts on “Cigar and Wine Pairings: La Aurora 107 and Gnarly Head Zin

  1. Great feature. From someone who loves cigars and wine this was a nice find. Matt you have done an admirable job to demonstrate how wines and cigars can complement each other. Will be sure to check out you site.

  2. Matt,

    Great post. Thanks for doing this on Stogie Review. Although I’m not a big drinker, this was very educational and interesting. I’ll be checking out your site.


  3. Enjoyed the well thought out article. However, I cannot drink wine or bourbons/wiskeys etc with a cigar. I find the combination of the aforementioned spirits too dry for my palate…same with coffees or teas. I personally need a fruit juice (sacrilege I know) or a sweet liquor to pair with the ‘dryness’ of tobacco.

    My two cents as worthless as they are.

  4. Matt,
    I sometimes find that some Zinfandels can be a little heavy on the alcohol taste. I have had Gnarly head Zin, but I cannot recall how it tastes and cannot find my notes. Have you every tried Saldo by Orin Swift or the Ridge Geyserville Zinfandel? I find that both compliments this cigar quite well.


  5. Thanks for the comments everyone.

    HammerheadSSN663 – I picked this wine because it wasnt very dry, and had good fruit on it. There’s definitely some spice on the wine, and it complimented the La Aurora well. However – a nice port would work well, and I’ll focus on one of those soon!!

    Jared – I havent had the Orin Swift, but I have had the Ridge Geyserville Zin – I think it’s been 2+ years though. I am not a HUGE Ridge fan. Zinfandel’s are often 15%+ alcohol, big big wines. One of the biggest problems though is drinking them too warm. Once wines get over 70 degrees, what people think of as regular “Room temp”, all you taste is the alcohol. Try chilling it to the 60s, a few minutes in the firdge, and you’ll see a different wine

  6. Thanks for the review Matt. I learned a lot and look forward to more of your posts here on the Stogie Review.

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