Cigars are like wine--filled with subtle hints and nuances that you may miss if you’re not paying attention.

Though it can take years to develop the skills to distinguish all those flavors, you can experience more from your cigars today. Just follow this brief cigar tasting guide.

Taste it before you light it

Hold the cigar in your mouth before you fire it up. You’ll be able to experience the sweetness or bitterness of your cigar, indications that it’s a good smoke. However, if you taste acidity or saltiness, this may mean that the cigar was made from less-than-stellar tobacco.

Smoke Slowly

Cigars are like most things in life--the slower you go, the more you’ll be able to notice.

So puff leisurely. Leave some time in between each draw and let the smoke linger in your mouth for a few seconds. It’s one of the simplest cigar tasting tips, but it makes the aftertaste more prominent and prevents the cigar from overheating.

Use your nose

We have more flavor detectors in our nose than on our tongue. So use your nose, or as some call it, ‘retro-hale’.

How do you do it? Take a puff, then release roughly half to three quarters of the smoke out of your mouth. Then, push the remaining smoke to the back of your mouth with your tongue and at the same time exhale through your nose.

If you’ve never retro-haled, take it easy: start with mild cigars. Otherwise, you may end up coughing a lot.

Protect your palate

Tasting cigar flavors comes easiest when your palate hasn’t been contaminated or overwhelmed. Here are a few ways to ensure that:

  • If you’re smoking a cigar for the first time, just drink water. Drinks will change the flavors you experience.
  • If you’re smoking multiple cigars, smoke the mildest first. Otherwise, the powerful flavors of the strong cigars may linger and make it hard for you to detect milder flavors.
  • Sip apple juice between cigars. It may help cleanse your palate.

Do you have any other cigar tasting tips? How do you try to experience all the flavors your cigar has to offer?