If you want to enjoy cigars more than you already do, there’s something you should try that you may not have thought of: improving your palate. An improved palate has benefits beyond just the appreciation of cigars. It can push your enjoyment of cigars, food, spirits, and wine to the next level. Of course, improving your palate doesn’t happen overnight. It will require some training and more than a bit of thoughtfulness. But we think it’s definitely worth the effort. To help you get there, we’ve made a list of tips and suggestions for you to follow.
Get into the Kitchen
The journey to improving your palate begins, as all tasty things do, in the most flavorful and aromatic room of your home: your kitchen. Get started by trying new foods. Take some chances. We all have our favorite flavors, and we worked hard to narrow down our likes to the things we can’t live without. But there’s always room to step outside of this. When you expand your horizons, your tastebuds will begin to recognize new flavors. This can put you in a good place to also start tasting new things in cigars, and to a broader enjoyment of them.
Play with Your Food
You were probably taught never to play with your food, but we’re nothing if not all about shaking things up to achieve higher levels of enjoyment. And so we encourage you to play with your food. Not in the way you might think, though. Play with the spices you put on your food. Not just by throwing a bunch of different flavors together like a mad food scientist, but by adding them slowly, one by one, and focusing on how they change the taste profile of your dish. Next time you’re making a pasta sauce, add your spices in slowly and taste how each of them adds a new component of flavor, as well as how it works with the other spices.
Sure, sometimes we just need to fuel up. But more often than not, it pays off to slow down when you eat so that you don’t miss the subtleties of your food. Take it slow and easy, and think about where the flavors hit your palate (more on that here). The same can be true while enjoying your cigar. If you just burn through your cigar and smoke it too fast, it can heat up and become bitter. Take your time. Take slow, consistent puffs and really savor the experience.
Cut the Sugar
This is good advice no matter what you’re wanting to accomplish, but it certainly holds true when you’re trying to develop your taste buds to enjoy cigars more. Too much sugar can dull your palate. If you’ve got a sweet tooth that just has to be satisfied, try things like switching out dark chocolate for milk chocolate. These can also be used as palate cleansers between cigars. Bonus!
Follow Your Nose
Sometimes, smoking a cigar in an environment that allows you to pick up on aroma will significantly improve the taste. Remember that your nose and your mouth work together when experiencing flavors, so use your nose to your advantage.
This is done by blowing smoke through your nose when you smoke a cigar. You can read a lot more about retrohaling here.
Pair your Cigar
Often, sparkling water does the best job of keeping your palate clean so you can enjoy the cigar the way it was intended. Other times, experimenting with different spirits and drinks can help compliment the flavors of the cigar. This takes a little bit of experimenting, but it can be a fun and worthwhile (and rewarding) job. Hey, someone’s got to do it. Might as well be you, and you might as well learn from it.
Yes, occasionally you may hear your retailer tell you that you should smoke less. Of course, some days deserve multiple cigars. Some days even demand it. When you embark upon those days, consider starting with the cigar that you want to focus on the most. If you’re trying something new or special, it’s best to smoke it first so that your palate is fresh.
Just like me, you probably enjoy smoking with friends. Smoking—especially cigar smoking—is a truly social habit, and sometimes the more people around you, the merrier. But when you’re working on improving your palate, you sometimes need to be alone with a cigar to truly get everything it has to offer. Being alone while you smoke gives you the opportunity to focus on the experience, to taste every puff, and to contemplate how your palate is reacting.