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Lounge Presidente
Lounge Presidente

Wine and Cigars with Marcel Knobel of ADVentura



If it’s not clear already, we love cigar and beverage pairings here at Cigora. At the end of the day, we are enthusiasts who love the romanticism behind the growing, processing, blending, and smoking of cigars. This same sentiment holds true with our interests in beer, bourbon, and in this case, wine.

I am much less qualified to talk about wine than I am cigars (not sure I’m qualified to talk about either to be honest), so I decided to enlist the help of our good friend Marcel Knobel of ADVentura. Marcel, a tobacconist, marketing guru, and sommelier, was kind enough to give me the inside scoop on the similarities and differences between wine and cigar production, blending, and pairing from his seemingly endless knowledge and experiences in both industries.

So, without further ado, let’s get into our conversation!

The Conversation:

Kevin: Marcel, thanks for taking the time to chat with me. It’s great to see you again. I wanted to start off with you giving us a little background on how you got into the wine and cigar industries.

Marcel: So, it’s somewhat of a long story, but when I was little, my mom actually owned a vineyard, so as a kid I was always helping out with stuff. It’s funny when I look back on it, because back then, as a kid, it was just work for me, but when I think about it now, it was a really pivotal time in my life and was my first introduction to the world of wine. As I got a bit older, I just became more and more interested in wine and decided if I was going to continue down this path, I needed to be 100% invested in it. I ended up getting an education called WSET which differs a bit from the sommelier education. WSET has more of a focus on climate, and growing conditions, and a lot of the agricultural education behind wine and wine growing, so it was a little bit more technical.

On the tobacco side of things, I have been smoking cigars regularly since I was about 25 and eventually opened my own retail business back in Switzerland. I just became increasingly more interested in tobacco in the same way that I became more and more interested in wine. After a couple of years of operating the retail business, I just decided that I wanted to have my own cigar brands for my store. At the time we were selling mostly Cuban cigars, and I really wanted to have something different to offer. Not just on the flavor side of things, but the packaging side of things as well – something that would really stand out. I didn’t know any manufacturers personally at the time but was lucky enough to connect with and start working with Henderson Ventura on our new brand, ADVentura.

Our first ADVentura release was The Explorer, which had the treasure chest style box – it really helped it stand out in the shop compared to the standard Cuban boxes. People were enjoying the cigar and the brand and one day a distributor came to me and asked if they could distribute it in Switzerland, so I thought, “why not?” The brand continued to grow and eventually made its way into other European countries, and in 2019 we were big enough to launch the brand in the United States. The rest is history!

To be honest, when we created The Explorer, it was never really our intention to make a brand that was distributed all over the world, but we are very grateful for the response and support we have gotten over the last 8 years.

Kevin: You’re obviously much more in tune with both wine and cigars than I am, so can you maybe talk about some of the similarities between the agriculture of the two.

Marcel: The biggest similarity is the importance and influence that soil has on growing grapes and tobacco - if you grow Corojo in Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua, it’s going to taste completely different. The same is true with grapes. If you take a grape that originated in the Bordeaux region of France, and grow it in Argentina or California, you will get a completely different result.

So, there are obvious similarities between growing grapes and growing tobacco, but tobacco growing is a bit different, and I think sometimes harder due to the effect that the different primes of a tobacco plant have on a profile.

Kevin: What about similarities or differences in the approach to blending cigars and blending wine?

Marcel: In a way it seems like there is a little more restriction when producing wine. You will typically find wine grown in a specific region - I haven’t heard anything about a wine blend that uses components from a region in France and Argentina for example. With cigars though, you can take tobacco from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Honduras, Cameroon, and the United States and throw them all together if you wanted to.

One thing about wine though, is that once you are familiarized with certain regions and producers, you can tell that a wine came from a certain producer just by the taste. The singularity of a wine grown with grapes from one specific region makes this possible.

Kevin: Last question from me, Marcel. Do you have any tips for pairing wine and cigars?

Marcel: To be completely honest, pairing wine and cigars is generally pretty difficult. The ammonia of the wine and the “harshness” of a cigar make it hard to pair the two together – one of the two will typically drown out the profile of the other. I’m not saying you can’t pair the two, or it’s impossible to do so, but for me personally, it’s been hard to find pairings that make both profiles better than they would be on their own.

But one specific pairing that has worked really well for me is pairing a nice mellow Connecticut-wrapped blend like The Royal Return Queen’s Pearls with a nice sparkling wine. The dryer the better, because that will complement the natural sweetness and creaminess of the cigar quite well.

Kevin: I am incredibly interested in all this stuff, and I’m looking forward to keeping the conversation going next time. I appreciate your time as always and I’m excited to do some cool stuff with you and ADVentura in the future.

Marcel: My pleasure Kevin, we will do this again soon.

Closing Thoughts:

There you have it, a very brief, yet undeniably informative introduction to wine and cigars with none other than Marcel Knobel. If you are looking for some more recommendations on cigar and wine pairings that we enjoy here at Cigora, be sure to check out our article, The Art of Cigar and Wine Pairings.

And if you are looking for an introduction to the ADVentura brand, check out our ADVentura Brand Sampler – it’ll give you a taste of arguably the best Dominican boutique brand on the market.

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