A wrapper is the leaf tabaqueros use to painstakingly wrap the filler leaves for the cigar. It gives the cigar its outward presentation and is the single most important visual element of the cigar. Experts vary on how much it contributes to the overall taste of the cigar. Some say as much as sixty percent; others hazard a more conservative estimate of twenty percent.
Regardless, the wrapper does as much as anything else to provide the look for the cigar and draw the attention of the cigar consumer. An attractive wrapper can sell the cigar as much as the great paint job can help sell a shiny new car. Though cigar aficionados appreciate a fine wrapper, a best man buying cigars for a bachelor party might find himself lured in by a snappy wrapper. Therefore, tobacco growers use their finest and most expensive leaves for the wrapper.
Cigar wrappers come in a variety of shades, but each individual cigar should be consistent in appearance with no variations of color. A good wrapper should be one color and one color only. If you notice shades, you have a bad or damaged cigar. Spots can indicate poor care, bruises, or mold.
Smokers usually look for a wrapper that is smooth, silky and has an oily look. This is an indication the leaf has been well humidified and the leaf is an exceptional one. Look also for bumps, veins, and other imperfections on the wrappers as clues to cigar quality. Darker wrappers are more likely to have a stronger vein appearance than the lighter wrappers. A well-wrapped cigar should be tight enough that its cap is practically indistinguishable from the body.
Cigar leaves are grown in the sun and in the shade depending on the look and quality desired. Tobacco grown in shaded conditions, that is usually with a cheesecloth, to produce a light brown- or khaki-colored leaf. Growers use shade to keep leaf surface smoother and prevent the veins from becoming too large.
Sun-grown tobacco develops a richer, somewhat reddish hue that has more robust, sometimes sweet flavors.