Why Cider Deserves a Place in Your Glass

Discover the fruity, funky world of fermented wonders. From pears to crabapples, cider is a drink steeped in history and bursting with unique flavors. Learn about its simple creation and find your perfect sweet-tart match.

Why Cider Deserves a Place in Your Glass
Discover perry, the delicate and subtly sweet pear-based cousin of apple cider.

A golden glow catches your eye, snuggled amongst the usual suspects on the bar shelf. It's squat, often sporting a rustic label, and probably says something about a farm somewhere. “Cider,” you think, and your mind most likely flits to that sweet, mulled concoction swirling with cinnamon sticks around winter holidays. While that cozy image has its place, the world of cider is like a sprawling orchard – far more rich, surprising, and frankly, deserving of our appreciation.

Let's not pretend cider is something shockingly new. People have been fermenting fruit for about as long as they've been cultivating the stuff. Apples, with their natural sugar and agreeable wild yeasts, were prime targets for a little boozy experimentation. Ancient Greeks? Yep, they had cider. Roman legions marching through Europe? They brought the cider craze with them. Heck, even presidents like John Adams reportedly kicked off their days with a tankard of the hard stuff.

What makes cider different, what gives it personality, is its starring ingredient. Wine has its grapes, carefully categorized—your Merlots, Chardonnays, and the like. Cider's main act can come from a delightfully unpredictable roster.

Sure, apple cider reigns supreme. But have you met its intriguing cousin, perry? This pear-based brew boasts a delicate sweetness with a hint of floral notes. It's like the sophisticated older sibling to apple cider's boisterous charm.

And the fruit fun doesn't stop there. Distinctive and increasingly popular, you might see ciders made from fruits like quince (think a tart twist), cherry (perfect for when you want a dose of vibrant summer), and even crabapples (these pack a serious tannic punch – not for the faint of heart).

The Making of a Masterpiece

“But isn't brewing complicated?” you might ask. Let's break it down. Think of cider as a delicious science project. Step one involves a whole lot of crushing. Dedicated cider apples and pears, the kind you wouldn't want to bite into, find their true destiny in the mighty press. Out flows that precious juice, the raw foundation of our fermented delight.

Here's where the cider maker has some choices to make. They can let the juice mingle with wild yeasts, those naturally occurring little fellas clinging to the fruit. This is like letting nature lend a funky, unpredictable hand. Alternatively, they can be more precise, using cultivated yeasts – tried and true strains for more dependable flavor profiles.

And now? We wait. Just like with wine, fermentation works its magic. Those yeasts do their dance, converting sugar into alcohol. The key difference is that this process happens slowly, sometimes taking months. This gives the cider time to develop all kinds of intriguing complexities.

Aging cider barrels stacked in a cellar.
Some ciders age in barrels, developing rich flavors like those found in wine.

A Flavor for Everyone

From bone-dry to tooth-achingly sweet, and everything in between, there's a cider for every palate. Cider makers often blend different kinds of fruit, playing with their sugar levels, acidity, and those mysterious things called tannins (which add a touch of bitterness and depth).

Some ciders even go on a slumber party in oak barrels, picking up vanilla-like notes. There's a whole category called “ice cider,” where the liquid gold is partially frozen, concentrating those flavors. It's like ambrosia for your tastebuds.

The next time you're at a bar or browsing the beverage aisle, don't overlook those unassuming bottles of cider. They hold a delightful history, a testament to the ingenuity of turning nature's bounty into boozy treats. When you're looking for a drink with personality–one that's a bit quirky, definitely delicious– cider just might be your new best friend.