Cigar shades have a great deal of influence on how the cigar actually tastes. They are the results of different curing processes and, because of that, the shade of the cigar is generally very important to experienced smokers who have very specific preferences regarding the taste, burning qualities, strength and other elements of a fine stogie. Here is a basic primer on the different shades of cigars available.
The lightest shades of cigar wrappers are those that influence the taste of the tobacco the least. These are described as Double Claro and Claro. Double Claro is the lightest shade. These cigars typically have a dryer quality to them and a very light flavor.
Medium shades include Colorado Claro, Colorado and Colorado Maduro. These shades are exactly what you would expect in terms of flavor: they have a bit more influence on the taste of the filler tobacco than the lightest shades and a bit less than the darkest shades. The medium shades range between a light brown and a dark brown. At the upper end of the scale, Colorado Maduro, it may be difficult for an inexperienced cigar smoker to differentiate the cigar from one of the darker colors.
The darkest colors include Maduro and Oscuro. These cigars have a very distinctive taste to them and are the result of specific types of curing processes. Sometimes these leaves are fermented. Dark cigar wrappers have a great deal of influence over the taste of the filler tobacco, so they are generally chosen so that they provide a great complement to whatever type of tobacco is inside the cigar itself. Some people prefer different types of cigars with different types of beverages, such as pairing darker colors with Brandy, wine and so forth. Experimenting and finding out which combinations appeal to you the best is part of the fun of learning about cigars.
The basic guideline is that the darker colors will taste quite a bit sweeter than the lighter colors. If you’re looking at cheap cigars, the wrapper shade does not matter at all. Cheap cigars aren’t wrapped with a proper leaf. A combination of low quality leaves is made into a pulp that produces a sort of paper into which the filler is rolled. With a high-quality cigar, the wrapper is very important and speaking to any cigar aficionado will likely give you a chance to learn a lot about how different wrappers offer different smoking experiences.
Photo credited to: http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/smoke-signals/8752074What Does the Shade of a Cigar Tell You? by David Sabot