Wine and Cider…The Blog Convergence
My recent interest in cider was piqued upon sitting down and tasting through a number of different ciders shown to me by a colleague who is now representing a winery that has begun making cider. “Tom, you really need to taste this stuff. It’s fantastic, the cider category is growing, there are a whole bunch of great craft ciders on the market and I think you’ll like them.” He was right.
I found cider compelling for a number of reasons. First, it appeals to me as a perfect kind of drink: It contains alcohol and provides a buzz when I desire it, but it does not contain too much alcohol—usually between 4% and 8%. This means I can drink my fill and not worry all too much about getting drunk. I’m not a big drinker to begin with, but I’ve never liked the feeling of being tipsy and full. Cider, for me, is the best of both worlds.
Second, the history of Cider in America is fascinating. At one time, well before Prohibition, it was the quaff of choice among Americans. Cider trees were everywhere and in abundance. You can trace westward movement by the planting of cider trees. Geography too plays a fascinating role in the history of American cider. Wheat and grains don’t grow to well in the east. But as you move farther west, particularly into and past the Ohio Valley, grain becomes growable, making beer an option. Then there is immigration. With beer drinking people coming to the states, they brought their love of beer. Eventually, Cider as the American drink fell off the map—for all these and other reasons.
Third, it is a very happy thing that Cider is so easy to make. It’s pretty simple actually. This makes it a pedestrian drink in the best possible way. Yet, it’s not that simple. Great cider I have learned owes a great deal to just the right blend of apples and to terroir to-boot. A wine guy like me can appreciate this.
Finally, when made well and when made with integrity and a respect for ingredients, Cider can be a miraculously delicious and complex drink. At its best it possess a fresh quality that cannot be matched by wine, beer or distilled spirits. To me, it tastes closer to the ground.
For all these reasons, I’ve taken to trying many different kinds of late and expect this compulsion will stay with me for quite some time. And I’ve decided to document this little journey here at Fermentation with the occasional post about the drink and with as many reviews as I can get up.
Now, with regard to reviews, I’ve said in the past that I will not be reviewing wine at this blog, that it would be a conflict of interest, that I am in no need of samples and that there are more than enough people out there reviewing wine, making anything I attempt a duplication at best. And that still stands. However, Cider reviews are in.
I will not be seeking or taking any cider clients. But, again, I will be reviewing them. On that point, I should note that the vast majority of a review will be given over to a simple description of the Cider under review, with a few notations on alcohol level, apples used, where they were grown and price. When it seems appropriate I’ll say a little about the producer and will link to them. Finally, I’ll place a rating on the cider. I’ve decided to use a 5-star hedonic scale, with half stars. So, you might see something like “***” or ***/****. This essentially makes the rating system a 10 point hedonic scale. This should leave more than enough leeway for tune of me palate.
Also, you’ll note a new addition to the menu at the top of this blog: “Cider Review”. By clicking on this menu item, you will be taken to a listing of all my cider reviews, with the most recent listed first and oldest at the bottom.
I hope you’ll follow along on this little Cider Journey. I hope you’ll let me know your own thoughts on the ciders I review if you have tasted them. I hope you’ll let me in on any particular ciders you’ve come across that you think particularly good, particularly bad, particularly interesting or otherwise.
You are going to be hearing a lot about Cider in the coming months and years. As a category of drink it is growing rapidly and the more and more are being produced by real artisans from across the country. I urge you to sip a few. You’ll be rewarded if you choose well.