|Fall is apple cider season. While in the U.S. and parts of Canada, the term “apple cider” is interchangeable with apple juice, in Europe a glass of cider is not kid stuff: It’s an alcoholic drink that many prefer to beer. Usually made from fermented apple juice (although pears can be used—pear cider is known as perry in the U.K.), the juice ferments for eight weeks after the apples are pressed. The cider then matures or several months, is blended, filtered and carbonated. The result is a drink with the carbonation and alcohol of beer and the flavor of apples. As with beer, each brand has a distinct flavor profile and alcoholic content, generally from 3% ABV (alcohol by volume) or less to 8.5% or more.
In the U.S., alcoholic cider is called hard cider, and it’s becoming more popular. Like wine, it has a relatively high concentration of antioxidants—but enjoy it for the crisp, refreshing taste!
|-Hard cider is best served chilled or over ice.
-Cider is naturally gluten-free.
-Cider is less filling than beer.
-The apple flavor is all-natural (as opposed to artificially-flavored malt beverages).
Gather up as many brands as you can, and invite friends over for a hard cider tasting. You can serve hard cider with any snack or food you’d serve with beer, but the sweetness of cider allows you to serve desserts with it, too, especially apple desserts (pie, crumble, bread pudding). For snacks, hearty cheeses and charcuterie; for main courses, pork, chicken and sausages, soups, stews, fondue. In fact, you can substitute hard cider for wine in most recipes and drink the cider along with the meal.
You’ll find hard ciders from the U.S., England, and Magners Irish Cider, the only hard cider imported from Ireland (and made from 17 varieties of apples). It has 4.5% alcohol and only 215 calories per pint bottle. You can learn more about Cider production at Magners.com.