New York Cider Week, October 16-23, 2011

Charles Derbyshire, Old Mill Wines & Spirits, Rhinebeck, NY kicked off Cider Week (October 16 – 23)  at the Dutchess County Sheep & Wool Festival, Rhinebeck, NY

I must confess, I always thought cider is just that sweet drink you purchase at the food markets. But after attending Charles presentation on cider, I discovered there is a whole new cider world known as hard cider. Another surprise discovery, the same hard cider taste differently from a plastic cup than from a glass, so much better from a glass.

We tasted 6 different ciders. Each had a different profile. One had a very vinegery taste, one tasted like champagne, two could pass for good wine. There were two I did not like when tasting from plastic cup, but I was OK with them when tasting from a glass.

My favorite was Eric Bordelet’s SYDRE from France. A close second was Hudson-Chatham POMME BULLÉ from NY, USA. I would choose POMME BULLÉ when I am entertaining because it is produced in the Hudson Valley and I live in the Hudson Valley.

Charles not only knows his cider (and wine) but also enjoys sharing his enthusiasm about cider (and wine). He is unpretentious and generous with his knowledge. I always come away learning a great deal. Do attend one of his presentations if you have the opportunity, I am sure you will agree with what I said above.

Below are some things I learned about hard cider.

Hard cider is cider that has been fermented, the alcohol content in hard cider range from 4 – 7½% and from sweet to dry, still to sparkling.

In colonial times and up to the mid 1800’s, hard cider, crisp and refreshing, was America’s favorite beverage. It was also an important beverage because cider was safer to drink than water.

The Temperance Movement of the mid 1900’s brought down hard cider but it is now making a comeback.

Cider can be made from any apple, but traditionally specific cultivars are chosen and grown for flavor components that make a good hard cider.

Cider apples are not eating apples. Typically they are small and have a bitter taste, some very bitter, due to tannin in the fruit. (Like grapes, there are table grapes and wine grapes. The same goes for apples, there are culinary apples and cider apples.)

Cider is produced all over the United States and the world.

Hard cider goes with a wide variety of foods even spicy Chinese dishes and it is a natural with cheese.

Hard cider is good for use in cooking.

Hard cider should be served chilled and once opened  should be consumed.

To learn more visit:

The ciders in the photos below are:
Top row, left to right: Etienne Dupont Bouché Brut de Normandie, France; Eric Bordelet Sydre, France; Isastegi Sigra, Spain.
Bottom row, left to right: Drouin Bouché Brut de Normandie, France; Farnum Hill Dooryard, New Hampshire, USA and Hudson-Chatham Pomme Bullé, New York, USA.

Sheep & Wool Festival4ciderweblarge

Sheep & Wool Festival5ciderweblarge

About Norma Chang

I am the author/publisher of 2 user-friendly Chinese cookbooks: "My Students' Favorite Chinese Recipes (updated edition)" and "Wokking Your Way to Low Fat Cooking" A gardener who enjoys cooking and eating and loves to think outside the box A garden volunteer at Locust Grove Heritage Vegetable Garden Conduct hands-on cooking workshops for teenagers Conduct cultural programs for children and family Conduct healthy cooking classes for adults
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