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Knights of the Vine RUSSIA


“If I cannot smoke cigars in heaven, then I shall not go.”
Mark Twain
Text by Victoria Radugina

ear friends! Some of us who are not going to be lounging on the light sand of Barbados at Christmas and New Year. We need some inspiration for the coming celebrations! We have to give our tired minds a little break from the crisis, from wars, national and religious confl icts.

A good Cuban cigar is still not expensive in Moscow! Let your celebratory cigar be a small, but affordable hedonistic getaway from the routine, a reason to look forward to having a peaceful hour or two, pleasing your sense of taste and day-dreaming about only nice things for the coming year. There is a lot of magic and romanticism about these days.

Let’s hope we will be lucky to have some snow, and that romantic aura of white freshness mixed with aromatic, pleasantly-heavy smoke will surround you in the magic days, bringing joy and contentment. Somebody will light candles, firecrackers and sparklers, and you will light up, cozily sitting by a Christmas tree.

It’s not a bad idea to go out for a good cigar smoke, most decent places in Moscow allow smoking, although there are a few places, like “Palazzo Ducale,” in which they prefer to breath the blue-grey, cheap suffocating smoke of cigarettes rather than the noble aroma of premium-class tobacco leaf, grown and cultivated with love, totally by hand. I think there is no need to mention that it’s not only the low quality of the tobacco they stuff cigarettes with that makes smoking a bad habit, it’s also the amount of chemicals that are used for aromatization. Even cigarette papers produces a lot of poison when they burn.

Cigars are not casual smoke-swallowing for addicts; they are a subject of free choice made out of pure passion! They are made for a special enjoyment in a special moment. A cigar is like an exclusive drink that must be savoured slowly, rolled all over your palate. They require a positive mood and their own time. The very mechanism of cigar smoking differs totally from the “breath-in-andout” slavery of cigarette dependence.

Everyone can find for himself the right size and kind of cigar, matching his character, taste, and aesthetic preferences. An elegant slim gentleman with fine manners would, certainly, feel great with a long and quite slim lonsdale, or alternatively with a more graceful panetela. A banker or an ambitious entrepreneur, in my opinion, would enjoy a short but energetic, full-bodied robusto. A young intelligent man with artistic tendencies would feel right to have a mareva; which is neither a long or thick cigar, and that takes only thirty minutes to smoke. Mareva (petite corona) is not a pretentious lightweighted cigar, it looks rather like a pencil held in a hand that is about to write down some inspiring ideas. A totally decadent, lover of pleasure, and a bit of an eccentric would impress everybody with big, beautiful, luxurious diadema the biggest vitola* from the double fi gurado kind. A diadema is long and large, it narrows to double pointed ends.

If you are strong as a rock and have enough patience, get a double-corona, a cigar that takes up to 2 hours to enjoy and so requires some determination to appreciate its various flavours, that appear during the long smoke. All the cigars with the famous name Churchill belong to this group. This cigar-statement, in my opinion, suits a man with imagination, who combines in his character both alphamale features and sophistication of mind.

The longest double-coronas for many years, remain an “attribute” of wedding parties in Spain, when even those who don’t normally smoke cigars, take a gorgeous “Montecristo A” in their hands. The piramide will, probably, be chosen by macho; a reserved guy with fine expressions, but brave and masculine. No wonder that a cigar of this type is one of the most popular at corridas, when fiery temperaments and fearlessness are demonstrated. Even the shape of it; figurado with a sharp bottom (another name - torpedo); reminds me of a weapon.

What would I recommend to you ladies? Well, my experience is that cigars are a pleasure mainly appreciated by men. Is it because not many women have enough patience to concentrate on the object that requires almost a meditative attitude? Quite possibly. A friend, the editor of a certain cigar magazine told me that the main common characteristic of women who like cigars is intellect... hmm, that is flattering... Another friend of mine, a lady who smokes cigars from time to time, thinks that a woman who takes a cigar not to be pretentious or to create a scandal, but who truly enjoys it, knows how to live according to her feelings and is not afraid of them. She knows how to discover something new in things and has a rich inner world. I quite agree.

So, going back to shapes, I will not advise ladies to the banal “small cigars are for ladies”. A small cigar quite often may taste harsher and less balanced than a thick one. So, the choice is up to the lady’s personality and her courage.

But, there’s no need to bother too much. Spend some quality time one on one with what attracts your eye first. You may choose your cigar for: its fine smooth capa (the top leaf, wrapper), which is matt or more or less oily, for its smell, for its co lour, for the shape you like.

At the end of the day, as Sigmund Freud said, “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar”. A simple earthy pleasure, although quite philosophical and requiring some knowledge and respect for cigar culture. Simple pleasures, actually, are the fi nest things in life! This is a matter of quality, which does not always depend on price, and, of course, attitude. Let’s cultivate our tastes, at the same time learn how to derive pleasure from small but really worthy things: a nice snowy evening, a tasty cigar, good warm company. That is when the ability to discern and appreciate the very joy of existence with an open heart will make us truly happy people. Everybody, with or without cigar, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

Two nice cigar shops:
Vkus jizni (Taste of life),
ulitsa 1905 goda, do 10, str 1.
Havana, Komsomolsky Prospect, dom 17.

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