Wines & Habanos: A Modern Trend


3/03/2013

As the world is enduring major changes in climate conditions, seasons and the time we use for activities in our daily lives, human beings are further planning their personal finances, either because they are bound to do –given the conditions in their countries- or just because they can’t afford to waste their time because, as the old saying goes, “time is money.”

The consumption of wines, spirits and Habanos is also hinging on those circumstances, and smokers and gourmet people having access to modern catering are making unprecedented decisions in that respect. 

Right now, consuming trends are subjected to a more objective and proper use of the time we have for having lunch or dinner. And to top it all off, there’s legislation banning hard drinks and smoking in many nations. 

Slashing the number of drawbacks for human beings for any reason related to the consumption of alcohol or tobacco has brought on both consequences and contradictions in terms of each and every patron’s desires and preferences. 

Habano smokers and gourmet customers are also playing a role in the new trendsetting game that breaks free from the longstanding patterns we have learned for the after-meal service, the order in which drinks are served during a meal, the pairings with Habanos and their friendliest companions. 

Therefore, it’s becoming increasingly trendy to puff on Habanos and drink wines that have been ordered from the appetizer, the selection of a wine menu that can play a major role during the short span of time a patron has, and the ability to make the meal experience come to a pleasant close without suggesting a spirit that would do nothing but raise the level of alcohol in the blood stream. 

If the patron’s a Habano smoker, then he or she has his or her vitola in mind and therefore, the kind of wine to order for the smoking session. That could guarantee the anticipated satisfaction in that brief period of time. 

It’s not trendy at all to drink a good brandy or cognac, a grappa, a liquor or an Oporto. Those are beverages that go naturally during the after-meal service, even more if we take into account that patrons do have the right time to puff on their cigars and they don’t have to drive their way back home. 

For a mighty long time, sommeliers were opposed to the possibility of having a wine and a cigar at the same time –with the sole exception of fortified wines- and they used to suggest the dessert to wrap up the meal, together with the consumption of great side wines and an excellent spirit; all that much before offering the exquisite Habanos. 

That is, during the catering service we have always clung to a logical order, an order that’s out of date now or seems to be standing still. Applying logical thinking is something gastronomes have to do in a professional way in a bid to meet the case-by-case needs of the patrons. Yet that’s no stranger to our obligation to pinpoint that kind of customer in our saloons that, based on either personal likings or preferences, binds us to abide by those trends. 

What’s more, as professionals we’re supposed to know the lines of desires for smokers and gourmet lovers who haven’t cast off their predilections as connoisseurs of the good drinking. Sommeliers are also supposed to understand their obligations and the desire to please customers, by means of our suggestions, and give them the right choice of Habanos and wines, a combination that truly leads to a pleasant harmony or contrast.

All this much takes research in an effort to let go of the old pairing rules, rules that cannot be fixed, yet patrons should rely on them to set the tone of their own choices. 

Bearing in mind the strength of the Habanos and the wines is something we should try each day, as well as the wine brands we count on in order to provide customers a better and more competitive Habano selection

It’s important to know that polyphenols, like tannins, play a major role in wines, together with sour or intense tastes that could arise in a particular vitola, depending on the strength of the brand. 

The size of the Habano is also important, especially if we consider the influence exerted by the strength of the vitola, whether it’s a figurado or double figurado, as well as the length of the burning session. 

The presence of substances that close the gustative buds with long and deep bitter tastes, together with the tannins of a wine, could eventually hamper the pleasant end result and let a different aftertaste float on.

However, mature and elegant tannins in an aged wine could bring up dramatically the midterm notes of a good vitola, resulting in a soft bitter and pleasant taste that tells us how good the combination of the two products can be.

Wines with fruity notes are highly recommended for the beginning of the smoking session, and it’s even possible to introduce a second wine for the last third of the smoke, preferably an aged wine that chips in tertiary elements and carries oak notes that pair excellently with the character of the smoke.

We don’t recommend our customers to puff on strong Habanos if they want to drink more wine. Soft-to-mild Habanos hover well over that spectrum.