What is Cider?
Cider is true pure apple juice fermented until the natural sugar content is fully or partially converted to alcohol. Strong cider can be tapped and mixed with more pure juice, so the result is a cider that is lower in alcohol and less dry. Popular cider, such as Weston's Stowford Press is blended for 'easy drinking', with an alcohol content around 4 - 5%.
Pears can also be used to create pear ciders and where almost purely pear juice, they are more properly called Perry.
Vintage and 'farm produced' ciders are often brewed from pure juice and left at the 8 or 9% alcohol that fermentation reaches.
Each year's harvest of apples gives differing tastes, so commercial producers carefully blend their juice to maintain the taste of their brands, adding very small quantities of water to adjust the body of the cider, or a little sugar if the tanin bitterness is too prominent. Like wine, sulphates are added to preserve the freshness since neither wine nor cider ought to be pasteurised. Any cider which says ' made WITH apples' or declares a less than 98% apple juice content probably ISN'T cider. Cider is made FROM apples, not WITH apples.
Other types, ranging from the sweet to medium sweet and from the medium-dry to dry. There are also organic, oak matured and seasonal cider from selected apple types. Vintage means using the juice from only one year's harvest.
How do you use cider?
The lower alcohol strength cider is the preferred leisure beverage in the West and South West of England and in parts of France, equalling beer or wine consumption. In Denmark Cider is confused with cheap soda types that have very little to do with apples. It is very misleading to compare real Cider to syrup products or other soft drinks.
Cider is an excellent aperitif, and also the ultimate summer drink. In dry form cider can easily replace white wine or sweet dessert wines. The exclusive, dry Vintage cider is a great alternative to champagne, having more complexity and less acidity - and for many, this cider gives less headache compared with champagne.
Cider should be the first choice for food when the dishes are pork, poultry or pasta. Try to pour plenty of cider in the pan when the sauce is made - whether it's the sauce for meat, fish or poultry, or fruit sauce for dessert.
I do not like Cider! ( You read this far?)
Are you sure? Was it real cider you tasted or soda with Cider written on the label? Maybe it was true cider, and perhaps it was too sweet or too dry?
You can find Cider both with or without bubbles, (carbonated or still). Scrumpy is the western English name for Cider, mostly cloudy and unfiltered.
Cider can also be mixed with fruit juice, syrup or herbal flavours, elderflower for example. Test it over a fruit cocktail, or as an ingredient in mixed drinks and cocktails.
How to taste Cider?
Start with a small bottle such as Stowford Press Medium Dry. Then it's easier to find the type you like best with Stowford as a benchmark. Find out if you prefer ciders sweeter or dryer. Look for the right balance of alcoholic strength and fruit 'body'. Above all, enjoy the cider maker's artistry and the natural flavours.