Pairing Cider With Your Holiday Meal
We may be biased but we think cider deserves a place at your holiday table this year. Hard cider is more complex than people know and because of that it can enhance every part of your holiday meal, from snacks and appetizers to turkey and sides. Need a few more reasons? We got them.
Cider is lower in alcohol content than wine. Thanksgiving is all about food and people. Take it easy on the alcohol while still being able to participate in all day drinking.
Thanksgiving’s roots are in celebrating and sharing a bountiful harvest. Fall is the time of the bountiful apple harvest. It is the most appropriate holiday for all things apple.
Cider is rooted in American history for this uniquely North American holiday. Apparently, cider was known as America’s national drink during the 1700s. A beloved beverage by the forefathers, Jefferson, Washington and Franklin were known to make their own cider from their own apple orchards.
Like wine, cider is controlled by terroir. Terroir refers to specificity of the place, the environmental factors affecting the characteristics of the fruit. Factors can include the condition of the soil, the climate of a place, and the amount of rainfall. A single variety of apple can make a different cider when it is grown in different places. When you taste a cider, you are not just experiencing the art of the apple, but a specific place and time too. Pretty magical.
Since craft cider is complex and can range from sweet to dry, it is good to have a basic breakdown to help you optimally pair. The residual sugar, or amount of sugar leftover after fermentation, can determine a cider’s sweetness . Here is a basic breakdown we use at St. Vrain Cidery:
Semi-Sweet Cider: These ciders have a good balance of tart and sweet, packing more residual sugar than off-dry and dry. The tend to have an upfront, crisp apple flavor.
Off-Dry or Dry Cider: Expect the least amount of residual sugar from these ciders. They are the driest varieties of cider out there. They have a more subtle apple flavor and a stronger acidity which make many of these ciders comparable to a dry white wine.
Sweet Cider: These ciders have the most residual sugar (measured sweetness) and are usually perceived to be the sweetest as well. There can often be a difference between measured and perceived sweetness though, and acidity has a big influence in this.
Try a nice fruit cider with your turkey this year. A drier style one, think more sparkling wine-ish, or go sweeter if the cranberry isn’t quite enough for you. Our Dry Chokeberry cider is a staff favorite with poultry and one we personally plan to serve at our table.
For pairing with your dessert perhaps offer your guests both a dry and sweet option. A dry option is perfect for cutting the sweetness of pies and cakes for those that don’t have much of a sweet tooth. When picking a sweet cider think about what you’re pairing with it. Our Fall seasonal cider, Gingerbread, adds a perfect molasses and spice flavor that compliments pumpkin and apple pies very well.