If luxury is less about richness and more about specialness (with a hint of exclusiveness). If it’s about sophistication and classiness, a demonstration of the skills of the maker and the few rather than the many – then ciders made like (the best) wines are indeed luxurious.
Cider Is Wine is a quality mark, bringing together the highest quality cidermakers across four continents which make their ciders just like top winemakers. But, instead of grapes, these ciders are made exclusively from 100% freshly pressed not-from-concentrate apple and/or pear juice.
Why is this different?
Unlike for wine, there is no global standard for what constitutes a cider. In the UK it’s 35%* juice content, all of which can be from concentrate, which can be sourced from anywhere. So you arrive at what some might see as a ridiculous situation where a so-called mass-market drink labelled as ‘English Cider’ can actually consist solely of re-constituted apple juice from China (that just happens to be made in England).
Nobody is saying that mass-market ciders taste bad or are harmful, but they’re not made to be exciting and different – or luxurious or memorable.
Ciders made like wine, following EU wine regulations (the dictionary definition of ‘wine’ is “an alcoholic drink produced by the fermenting of grapes… or produced in this way with other fruits, flowers, etc.”) are redolent of their locality – what winemakers call ‘terroir’ – the apple or pears varieties used and the skills of the individual cidermaker working to bring out the most appealing characteristics of the fruit.
These ciders cover every taste profile, from the driest of the dry to the sweetest of the sweet, and every point in-between, and pretty well every hue, from refreshingly lip-smacking light gold to rich golden and deep amber (pink too, created from the juice itself as well as contact with the skins of the apples).
Their taste profiles run from the bolder and earthier, more structured and tannic, so closer to a red wine, to lighter and brisker, with delicate acidity and balance, so more like a white wine.
Then there are the aromas which show every fruit and flavour under the sun and which resonate through these apple juice ferments: clean, crisp, fresh green apples, overlain by layers of aromatics, from asparagus to deep fresh straw, to oak and strawberries, redcurrants, blackcurrant leaves, raisins and toffee (lots of wine notes here).
Like wines, these ciders come both as still and sparkling (some even made exactly like Champagne).
The skill of these artisan cidermakers helps create what one can only call a kaleidoscope of food matching opportunities. Indeed, these full fruit content ciders are very often more versatile when it comes to food matching than their vinous cousins and are an ideal match for drinking pleasure in the lead up to, and over, the Christmas period.
At this time of celebration, we’re not forgetting our health, either: on average these ciders contain about half the alcohol of most wines, as well as being gluten-free and, in the vast majority of cases, vegetarian and vegan friendly.
*In the USA it’s 50%, in Sweden 15%, whilst in Australia and New Zealand, it’s effectively 0% (in countries such as France and Spain it’s also 100%).
Some Contemporary Cider Facts:
- The UK is the biggest cider market in the world with 40% share…
- Considerable – and growing – interest in ciders made like wine: today it’s the fastest-growing cider sector…
- Cider is the second-fastest-growing of all alcoholic drinks sectors in the USA…
- Ciders are very much part of the trend of drinking less, but better – less alcohol, less over-indulging, greater interest in premium, better quality products…
If you would like to know more about the art of cider-making, contact Alistair Morrell or Roddy Kane at Cider Is Wine through their website www.cideriswine.co.uk.
Read more articles like this in our wines and spirits section here.