Cider – the “old” new beverage
For the purpose of this article I will be using the Wikipedia definition of what a cider is…. “a fermented alcoholic beverage made from fruit juice, most commonly and traditionally apple juice, but also the juice of peaches, pears (“Perry” cider) or other fruit”. While some people might only define a cider as being made from apples, we here at the NLC include those also made from other fruits as I will touch upon in this article. We find a similar situation in the wine world where some people insist that the definition of a wine be kept to those products made solely with the fermented juice of grapes, while others expand the definition to include fruit, and or, berry wines. Personally, if I am referring to a wine that is not made from grapes, or a cider that is not from apples, then I will make sure to include that in the description. For example, the NLC carries a product called Sleeveen (Sku 8346), which is a wonderful example of a “berry” wine that mixes fresh, wild, Newfoundland blueberries with a famous Italian wine from the Veneto called Amarone. In the cider world when the beverage is made from pears some people will call it a “pear” cider, while others call it a Perry.
For thousands of years humans have, both knowingly and unknowingly, been fermenting the fresh juice of apples to produce what the world today calls cider. In addition to these alcoholic beverages, usually being safer to consume than the local water sources of the day, they also made you feel better when taken in small quantities. As Europeans made their eventual way across the pond that we now call the Atlantic Ocean they took with them both their taste for, and knowledge of, cider. At its peak in the 19th century, cider production and consumption was a major agricultural activity throughout much of North America. This continued up until the early 20th century, at which time things like Prohibition and an excess of grain (which led to a huge increase in beer and spirits production), basically made cider a non-factor, with the culture and history of this beverage being forgotten! Interestingly enough Quebec, with its strong French culture and lack of Prohibition, kept up the cider tradition and has embraced it as a preferred beverage up to this day. I recently read an article that claims that ciders are back with a vengeance, and are “quickly gaining fame as the old new beverage, and as a beer alternative”. It is exciting to see this renewed interest in an age old beverage and with it an increased variety and quality of new ciders being produced.
Ciders come in a wide variety. They can be dry, or sweet, or most anything in between. They can be still beverages, or they can be created in a sparkling style. Some are clear, whilst others are cloudy, and I have seen them ranging in colour from light yellow to orange to brown. Not to get too technical but the best ciders are invariably the result of cool/low temperature fermentations, as these slow down the process and there is less loss of the desirable and delicate aromas and flavours. The NLC currently offers eleven products that we define as cider. We are very pleased with this category as sales have increased by almost 50% this year, as compared to last. Our most popular cider (excuse me, the world’s most popular cider!) is called Strongbow (Sku 4416 - $4.18 per 500ml), and is a must try for those new to this type of drink. It is tart and dry, and has a beautiful, long apple dominated finish. My favourite way to drink Strongbow is as part of the concoction called a Black Velvet – this is a perfectly layered drink with cider on the bottom and Guinness on the top. If you even remotely enjoy either of these ingredients then you should do yourself a favour and check out a Black Velvet – you won’t be sorry! Surprisingly, the next two most popular ciders in Newfoundland and Labrador are not based solely on apples. Sir Perry (Sku 11113 - $4.18 per 500ml), is a pear cider from England that smells and tastes of fresh pears. It has the perfect of amount of residual sugar and light effervescence to make this refreshing beverage the perfect starter to a night out on the town. Rounding out the top three ciders currently offered at your local NLC store is a rather unique product called Tempt No.9 Strawberry & Lime cider (Sku 12423 - $2.74 per 330ml). Based on a combination of apples, strawberries and lime juice this recent addition to the NLC has quickly moved up the ranks and already has a huge following. For those of you who think that you might enjoy such a drink I would also recommend that you keep an eye out for Tempt’s latest offering, Tempt No.7 Elderflower & Blueberry cider (Sku 13612 - $2.74 per 330ml), as it is sure to be a big hit in this province! The NLC staff will be able to help you find any of these products in any of our Liquor Stores.
In conclusion, we here at the NLC are very pleased with the cider category as a whole. It has consistently risen, and while only a couple of products were necessary in the past, we now see the need to offer a healthier selection. I would recommend trying any of those that I have touched upon above, or any of the others that we are currently offering, as they are all very different tasting, and worth picking up. For those of you who might need that extra little reason to try their first cider, the Daily Mail (MailOnline) out of the United Kingdom has a lovely article entitled, “A cider a day keeps the doctor away”, in which they claim scientists have found the first evidence that drinking cider is good for your health! They say that ciders have the same level of antioxidants as red wine and therefore help to protect against such things as cancer, heart disease and other age-related conditions. I don’t know about you but that seems like a great way to maintain a healthy lifestyle to me! Pour yourself a glass of one of these refreshing, “healthy” ciders and see what you think for yourself
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Senior Product Knowledge Consultant