Cider is to fall what rosé is to summer, so say goodbye to rosé for the season, it’s time for apples to shine! Apple cider is a delicious seasonal drink that comes in so many variations and flavors. There’s a style for everyone. First things first, let’s get down to what makes a cider a cider:
The Lowdown on Cider:
Hard Cider is an alcoholic beverage made from the fermented juice of apples. Each orchard can choose any type of apple they like, but “cider apples” (which have higher levels of acid, tannin, or sugar) are desirable.
From there, ciders start to vary wildly. They can be classified from dry to sweet. Their appearance ranges from cloudy with sediment to completely clear, and their color ranges from almost clear to amber to brown. They can be either sparkling or still. Ciders may have additional fruits, herbs, or oak aging, but this must be specified on the bottle. These are referred to as specialty ciders. The alcohol content in cider varies drastically from 1.2% ABV (alcohol by volume) in traditional English ciders, to as high as 12%. Every country that produces cider has distinct guidelines that must be followed in order to insure quality and consistency.
Country Specific Styles and Regulations:
While cider is popular across the world, the UK has the world’s highest per capita consumption. In the United Kingdom, cider must contain at least 35% apple juice (fresh or from concentrate.) Traditional english ciders are made with bittersweet apples, and aged in old wood. Spicy, smokey, and barnyard notes are common.
In France, cider must be made solely from apples. Normandy style ciders, like their English counterparts are made with bitter-sharp apples specifically farmed for cider. Some notes of chalkiness or salinity can be noticed, along with the smokey, spicy, and barnyard flavors. Spanish ciders follow suit with a similarly dry profile.
In the United States, there is a 50% minimum for apple juice. “New World Cider” and “New England Cider” are two common types of ciders made in the US. These two styles tend to lack the distinct smokiness that is common in French and English ciders. They also may have added sugars, molasses, honey and raisins to enhance flavor.
How is it made?
Cider, like wine, is made through a process of fruit juice fermentation. Once the apples are gathered from trees in orchards, they are ground down into what is called pomace. This mush of apple seeds, pulp and skin is then traditionally pressed using stones with circular troughs, or by a mill.
Once all of the juice is squeezed from the pomace, it is strained and put into casks for aging. At this point, additional sugars can be added to increase the alcohol content of the resulting beverage.
The cider is ready to drink after a three-month fermentation period, though more often it is matured in the vats for up to three years. After aging is complete, the ciders are bottled or canned. Higher quality sparkling ciders can be made using the champagne method (meaning they undergo a second fermentation in the bottle), but it is not common, and is an expensive wine making technique.
So whats next?
Now it’s time to sip- Take a break from wine and try experimenting with ciders. Try fun flavors like lavender black currant, hopped ciders, or stick to traditional dry ciders, the options are endless, and your taste-buds will thank you!
Interested in learning more about cider, or arranging a tasting? You can comment here on our blog, on Facebook or in the store. We are excited to hear from you! We also deliver locally, to East Hampton, Wainscott, Bridgehampton, Sag Harbor, and Montauk.
— Pauline Fink, Staff