Wine and spirits styles, their sensory characteristics


Valerie Bradshaw is a super credentialed wine, spirits and cigars assessor. She is also a member of the Cigar Sense expert panel. During the Cigar Sense Parlor meeting of 14 August 2020, we talked about:

  • the sommelier educational path and what you can learn in a wine educational program
  • the tools Valerie uses to keep the nose trained and develop the olfactory vocabulary
  • a key difference between tasting wine vs. cigars
  • the effects of malolactic fermentation when it comes to choosing wines to pair with cigars
  • why we should not confuse the crispness of white wines done in stainless with acidity. Why acidity is important in wines and how you measure it
  • the best vintage for port
  • Scotch whisky and the corn sweetness
  • cigar sommelier education

and more.

Podcast episode 30, “Wine and spirits styles, their sensory characteristics”

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References discussed during the Parlor meeting:

WSET Sommelier Development Path

Phylloxera Botanist Vintner
“Phylloxera” by Christy Campbell, re-edited as “The Botanist and the Vintner”

A few questions to Valerie Bradshaw

What triggered your passion for scents?

My love of scents started when I was 8 years old. I’d received a small doll, called Kiddle Kologne. Her name was Violet & she smelled of violet. I loved that doll and she was the catalyst for continued development of my love & fascination of scent going on for 5 decades.

When did you start smoking?

I started smoking when I was 15. My 1st small cigar was a Colts – rum tipped – when I was 16 … and I’ve been smoking ever since. Premium cigars became a regular part of my life in the mid-90’s when I visited a cigar lounge in Mesa (Arizona, USA) and was treated so well by the owner & the other people in the lounge that I knew I wanted it to be part of my life. But then the next step was finding the style of cigar that opened up the next door. It came when I was with Scandinavian Tobacco Group and I tasted the CAO MX2 … and that was that. I wanted to learn everything I could about every cigar on the planet.


Valerie’s bio

Valerie Bradshaw is a visionary Cigar executive with 4 decades of business experience including Scandinavian Tobacco Group, Daniel Marshall Cigars & Humidors and Smooth Draws Cigar Radio.

Val has a long history with mainstream media – Television, Radio & Newspaper – and was added to the Smooth Draws Show team in July of 2015. By producing the Smooth Draws weekly #CigarHerf on Twitter, she & the hosts – Gary Laden & Nic Syris, reached thousands of enthusiasts with Cigar education, Cigar celebrities & smokin’ Cigar Lifestyle imagery until the end of its run in 2018.

Val has also hosted sensory appreciation workshops for Daniel Marshall Cigars & Humidors in Las Vegas & New Orleans, as well as in her home city of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Val’s primary motivation in the Cigar world is sensory perception – identifying the aromas & flavors that make up part of the appeal of Cigars to the smoker.

She is a member of Society of Sensory Professionals, a professional organization dedicated to the advancement of sensory science. It was during the 2016 conference of that organization that Val identified as a “Super-Taster” and it is an area of interest that has generated a great deal of discussion & curiosity.

In addition to WSET L3 Wine & Spirits Professional accreditation, Val has received certificates from olfactory programs, including those held by the respected Alexandre Schmitt, which are devoted to olfactory education.

As a result, she is a leader in communicating the aromatic universe with objective vocabulary & descriptors. 

There is a strong relationship between cigars and wine & whisky appreciation.

Val graduated WSET Advanced Certificate with Merit in Wines & Spirits and is a member of the Society of Wine Educators, the Guild of Sommeliers and the Wine Scholar Guild.

She has traveled extensively throughout France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Madeira & North America attending various wine, whisky & cigars events including IPCPR & Big Smoke Vegas.

Val is a proud Cigar Rights of America Life-Time Member, Ambassador & Advocate.


Visit her website,

You can also watch a recent interview by Cigar Prop.

This podcast is brought to you by Cigar Sense founders and paid members. With the free Cigar Sense membership, you can obtain personalized recommendations of cigars that best suit your unique individual tastes. In a few simple steps, you can see what your top cigar picks are from the thousands of cigars available on the market. You can also explore sensory and other cigar attributes as Cigar Sense helps you better understand what you like and dislike in a cigar.

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