P&C Pairing Guide by Russ Ouellette

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Sep 4, 2015
Baku, Azerbaijan
From time to time P&C Instagram page shares some nice pairing guides. I decided to collect all of them here for you:
- Aromatics are normally light and sweet. Teas with some tannic “bite” offer a pleasant counterpoint.

- Non-aromatic Burley blends have a nutty quality without too much sweetness. Any kind of whiskey or an amber ale pair well.

- Virginia/Perique blends tend to be sweet with some spice, but are usually medium-bodied or lighter. A dry red wine or a gin and tonic is a nice contrast.

- Virginia blends tend to be light and sweet, so a dry white wine works well.

- Straight Virginia blends work well with a lager. Both are light in body but the sweetness of a fine Virginia contrasts the bitterness of the beer.

- A gin and tonic is light in body, but has a bit of bitter “bite”. A creamy, sweet Burley, like Lane’s BLWB is an excellent pairing.

- Sweet mixed drinks are a surprisingly good pairing with Latakia blends, because they’re both flavorful, but the smokiness offsets the sweetness of the drink.

- Black coffee or a hefty stout (which both have deep and bitter notes) will pair well with a more full-bodied aromatic, like Lane’s BCA or Dark Red.

X One pairing we do not encourage is eating or drinking dairy while enjoying a pipe. Butterfat/milkfat does a very efficient job of coating the tongue, which will severely reduce your ability to taste.

X Pairings to avoid include dairy and other fatty foods, like chocolate and peanut butter. The reason is that the fats will coat the tongue, which reduces the ability to taste the tobacco.

- If you enjoy Burley-based “codger blends” like Half and Half or Sir Walter Raleigh, try them with a pumpkin spice latte (if you’re into that). The coffee drink will bring out the nuttiness of the tobacco.

- Hot mulled cider goes really well with a full-bodied Balkan or English blend, especially one that contains Perique.

- Here’s a strange little pairing – try munching on some candy corn while enjoying a Virginia/Perique blend. You’ll notice more of the Perique’s spice.

- Orlik Golden Sliced pairs well with hors d'oeuvre.

- Vanilla Aromatic Tobacco pairs well with session beer.

- Eggnog is the quintessential holiday beverage, but because it coats the tongue, it can really change the flavor of whatever you’re smoking. To solve that, snack on some crackers or chips to cleanse your palate. Then you can pair it with whatever tobacco you’d like.

- Hot chocolate or cocoa is creamy, sweet and slightly bitter, so a spicy Burley or Virginia/Perique blend will provide a pleasant contrast.

- Of all the usual snack foods, one of the best to eat while enjoying a pipe would be a pretzel. There’s no lingering aftertaste and it isn’t a greasy food, which can coat your tongue.

- Brandy or cognac is a great choice to pair with Latakia blends. The sweetness is capable of cutting through the smoky aftertaste and contrasts the flavor well.

- A variety of blends pair well with carbonated drinks. If you enjoy carbonated beverages and want to drink one while having a pipeful, either add some ice or let the drink sit for a bit to reduce the potentially irritating bubbles.

- Aromatic blends pair well with Champagne. Champagne will go well with almost any blend. The sweetness is muted and balanced by tartness and it has a cleansing effect for the taste buds.

- A cup of cocoa pairs well with any blend and helps to cleanse the taste buds. If you have to smoke outside during the cold weather, a cup of cocoa (not hot chocolate) is a great choice. The slight bitterness of cocoa helps the cleanse the taste buds.

- Robust Latakia blends pair well with syrupy liqueurs. Syrupy liqueurs tend to linger on the palate which can dull the taste of your pipe. But even though ruby port is intensely sweet, like a liqueur, it works well with robust Latakia blends. Just make sure to sip the port rather than gulping it.

- Hard cheeses, like Manchego, are a great palate cleanser when enjoying a pipe. Most hard cheeses have intense flavor, but they're not creamy, so the fat won't coat your tongue.

- A dry martini works well when paired with a light aromatic or a medium-bodied Virginia or Virginia/Perique blend. The bitter edge of gin contrasts well with mildly-sweet tobaccos.

- Earl Grey tea is a good choice with a mellow Burley blend. The citrusy flavor of the tea contrasts the nuttiness of Burley.

- Irish coffee is an ideal companion for a rich Virginia/Perique blend.

- Guinness Stout works great as a pairing with Lakeland Ropes and Twists, and also War Horse Bar. The body of the tobaccos and the stout is full, but the creaminess of the Guinness perfectly contrasts the boldness of the blends.

- A straight Virginia blend pairs well with green tea. The tannins in the tea will bring out the natural sweetness of Virginia.

- Oriental-forward Latakia blends pair well with espresso. The depth of flavor and slight bitterness of espresso will contrast the brightness of the tobacco while matching it in body.

- Traditional Burley blends pair well with lemonade. The acidity and sourness will bring out the nuttiness of “codger blends”.

- Maduro cigars or a heavy Latakia pairs well with strawberry lemonade.

- Pipe tobaccos of any kind pair well with beer. Just one word of caution – if the beer is very effervescent, give it a little time to rest so the bubbles don’t sting your tongue.

- Whiskey sour mix + club soda = spikey lemonade and it pairs well with Virginia or Virginia/Perique blends.

- Mellow to medium Balkan-style blends pair well with cappuccino. Balkan-style blends will work well as the bright and smoky flavors contrast well with the sweet, bitter notes of the drink.

- Smooth Burley blends pair well with ginger ale. Consider Hearth & Home Mid-Town Chatham Manor. A great pairing, as the mellow nuttiness of the tobacco offsets the sweet spiciness of the beverage.

- A light to medium-bodied Latakia pairs well with ales like Newcastle. The latakia pairs well with the sweetness and good body of the ale.

- A spicy Virginia/Perique or Dark Burley pairs well with Islay scotch. The spice will contrast well with the sweet and smoky character of the scotch.

- Bold, Virginia and Dark Fired blends pair well with aged rum.

- Hearty Burley or Latakia blends pair well with apple cider.

- Aromatic, Virginia or Virginia/Perique blends pair well with bouillon or broth. The saltiness of the broth is a delightful contrast to the tobaccos' sweetness.

- Padron 3000 Maduro pairs well with a bold Cabernet.

- Non-aromatic, slightly Aromatic and Latakia blends pair well with mulled wine.



Preferred Member
Jun 26, 2016
Interesting for someone with a beginners knowledge of tobaccos like myself.
I usually have a black coffee with my pipe, and it does bring out some of the nuttiness of Early Morning Pipe for what its worth.



Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
I am a teetotaler, so I find that Coffee pairs well with most blends, but I especially enjoy a Vanilla Flake or vanilla blend with my coffee in the morning.

I also press my own juices from my garden fruits. Apricot pairs very well with VaPers, especially the ones with a dash of dark fired. I just warm it and add a dash of cinnamon to the juice.

Pear and apple juices pair well with latakia for me. Sweet and savory. I like contrasting pairings, sometimes.
And, Southern Sweet tea with a straight Virginia, mmmmmmmmmm...
Now, on the beach, I get a fruity coconut based beverage. Yeh, I order virgin drinks on the beach... But, paired with GLP's Key Largo or another cigar blend... or just a cigar. Love it.
And, I can still drive after enjoying.



Preferred Member
Feb 11, 2016
I just pair most of my smokes with either coffee or Earl Grey tea. Usually tea cause I can drink it all day long.



Preferred Member
Oct 16, 2009
This is a subject that I've been working on for more than 10 years. Things that help cleanse the palate are acidity, tannins, and carbonation, so a dry, sparkling wine is kind of a "perfect storm". Coffee, though, my usual drink of choice with a pipe.



Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
Russ, just for my own clarification of my dense noggin, by "perfect storm," do you mean that you think acidic, tannic, and carbonation are good for cleansing the palate or not good?
I do drink Mountain Dew with my smoke quite often, but I don't usually recommend it, because so many people have suggested that sodas burn their mouth while smoking. But, I love it, but I am also a Southern boy, and we tend to develop a taste for the citric drinks down here at an early age.
Side not: when I was a kid, Mountain Dew filmed a commercial at my Uncle Leon's General Store, and I am the red headed kid in overalls running after the old pick up truck on a red dirt road with a Mountain Dew in my hand. It may have only aired locally, but for a short time, I WAS A STAR!!! at least in my elementary school, ha ha.



Preferred Member
Oct 16, 2009
I definitely meant that it's good thing. Since all three of those properties are present in something like a brut champagne, it's a great palate cleanser. I don't drink wine very much any more, but when I've had a pipe while drinking a dry, sparkling wine, I can really taste the tobacco better. One caveat, though, don't drink it with a blend that burns hot - those damned bubbles...



Preferred Member
Jan 28, 2010
Chester County, PA
At one of the Lehigh Valley Pipe Club meetings, Russ told me he used to be a chef. His palate is remarkable by any standard, and no doubt he is in the top echelons of Supertasters. His background in the two disciplines of food/drink and tobacco gives real weight to the pairing notes. So the collection of pairing notes that jvn posted is a real treat.




Preferred Member
Oct 16, 2009
Les, I was more of a cook than a chef, but I love to do more elaborate cooking at home (which my girlfriend greatly appreciates). I don't have the temperament to cook intricate food with the clock ticking.

My experience with pairings began by doing a seminar on the subject for a hospitality services program at a college. That got my interests piqued on the subject and I've continued to do talks and articles for years.



Preferred Member
May 26, 2012
United States
I love my Cafe Du monde coffee with any type of tobacco. Also I drink sweet tea ( Stevia only) and stay away from things like orange and grapefruit juice and any type of carbonated drink. I love Mountain Dew, my favorite soda, but it burns when I try drinking it with my pipes. I wish I could drink it.



Preferred Member
Sep 9, 2017
Hmm, so, if dairy/fatty drinks coat the tongue... maybe I'll get less tongue burn??



Sep 15, 2017
Same here - mostly strong black coffee with generous amount of cold milk :) (and no sugar)

Any kind of bubbly drink while smoking is causing a perfect storm in my mouth, and in general I tend to avoid these.
Can't resist a good brandy or whiskey though :)



Sep 15, 2017
Thumbs up for the Guinness (but it is not the usual bubbly drink :) to make your palate burst in tears while smoking and drinking)
Jameson and Black Bush are my daily favs :)



Senior Member
Jul 20, 2017
DO NOT suck on Cepacol extra strength cough drops and then smoke your favorite blend. It just doesn't work out too well.



Feb 19, 2017
admiral, hahah that is so true
Russ, I think you are the greatest living blender, period. It is so cool to see you participate on this forum. It's like being in a room with one of the greats, which you are in my book. I'm waiting for Whiteknight to be back in stock as I've never had it and everyone raves about it!