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Artisanal Craft Cider Tastings

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Introduction

In recent years, the craft beverage scene has experienced a renaissance like no other. While craft beer and small-batch distilleries have taken center stage, there’s one unsung hero that deserves equal attention – artisanal craft cider. From its humble beginnings as an ancient drink to its resurgence in the modern world, cider has a rich history and a unique taste profile that captures the essence of autumn. Join us on a journey to discover and create your own artisanal craft cider tastings, celebrating the orchards, history, and flavors of this timeless libation.

Historical Context

Cider, often referred to as “apple wine,” dates back thousands of years, with its origins believed to be in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. The Roman Empire, renowned for its love of all things culinary, played a pivotal role in spreading the cultivation of apple trees throughout Europe, which, in turn, paved the way for the rise of cider production.

In America, cider held a prominent place in the colonial era, with apple orchards flourishing across the Northeast. In fact, it was more common to drink cider than water in those times. However, the popularity of cider waned during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, thanks in part to Prohibition and the rise of other beverages. It wasn’t until recent decades that cider began to regain its reputation, as the craft beverage movement turned its attention to this historic drink.

Preparation

1. Selecting Artisanal Craft Ciders

Before you embark on your tasting journey, select a variety of artisanal craft ciders. Look for options that showcase different apple varieties, production methods, and flavor profiles. Consider including dry, semi-dry, and sweet ciders for a well-rounded experience. You can find these ciders at specialty liquor stores, local cideries, or even order them online.

2. Preparing the Tasting Environment

Create a cozy and inviting space for your cider tastings. Set up a table with plenty of natural light, and arrange your tasting glasses, ciders, and tasting sheets or journals. Make sure your cider is chilled to the appropriate temperature, typically between 45-55°F (7-13°C).

3. Tasting Ritual

Begin your cider tasting experience by following these steps:

  • Pour a small amount of cider into each tasting glass, filling them about one-third full.
  • Swirl the cider gently to release its aromas.
  • Take a moment to observe the cider’s appearance. Note its color, clarity, and effervescence.
  • Bring the glass to your nose and inhale deeply. Try to identify the cider’s aroma notes, which can range from crisp apple to floral or even earthy.
  • Take a sip of the cider and let it coat your palate. Pay attention to its taste, sweetness level, acidity, and any lingering aftertastes.
  • Record your impressions on your tasting sheet or journal, including the cider’s name, aroma, taste, and any notable characteristics.

4. Pairing Cider with Complementary Flavors

To enhance your cider tasting experience, pair each cider with a selection of complementary flavors:

  • Pair dry ciders with sharp cheddar or blue cheese to accentuate their crispness.
  • Semi-dry ciders work wonderfully with prosciutto and pâté, balancing their saltiness.
  • Sweet ciders pair beautifully with fresh apple and pear slices, enhancing their fruity notes.
  • Drizzle honey over your cheese and charcuterie selections to add a touch of sweetness.

5. Exploring Pairing Combinations

Experiment with different cider and pairing combinations to discover your personal favorites. The interplay between the cider’s acidity, sweetness, and flavor notes, along with the textures and flavors of the cheeses, charcuterie, and condiments, creates a symphony of tastes that can be both surprising and delightful.

6. Savoring the Moment

Take your time with each tasting, savoring the flavors and enjoying the company of fellow cider enthusiasts. Discuss your findings, share your tasting notes, and celebrate the diverse and complex world of artisanal craft cider.

In conclusion, artisanal craft cider tastings offer a unique opportunity to explore the history, flavors, and nuances of this timeless beverage. With a well-curated selection of ciders and thoughtfully chosen pairings, you can create a memorable tasting experience that pays homage to the centuries-old tradition of cider-making while embracing the creativity of modern craft cider producers. So, gather your friends, raise your glasses, and toast to the artistry of cider-making – a journey worth savoring.

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prep time
approximately 30 minutes.
cooking time
not applicable.
servings
Ideal for 2-4 people.
total time
1-2 hours.

Equipment

  • A corkscrew (some artisanal ciders are bottled with corks)

  • A bottle opener (for cider in cans or bottles with caps)

  • A wine key or cork puller (for corked cider)

  • A pitcher of fresh water for palate cleansing

  • Cheese knives or a cheese board

  • Small serving plates

  • Napkins and small forks for handling the charcuterie

  • Small ramekins for the honey and condiments

  • A wooden or slate serving platter for arranging the pairing items

Ingredients

  • A variety of artisanal craft ciders (try to source local and international options for diversity)

  • Tasting glasses or wine glasses

  • A tasting sheet or journal to record your impressions

  • A selection of cheeses, including sharp cheddar, brie, and blue cheese

  • A variety of charcuterie items, such as prosciutto, salami, and pâté

  • Fresh apple slices and pear slices

  • A small dish of honey

  • Sliced baguette or crackers

Instructions

1
Select a variety of craft ciders.
2
Set up the tasting environment.
3
Follow the cider tasting ritual.
4
Pair cider with complementary flavors.
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