After some recent cider experiences
I thought to myself, Why have I not explored cider more?
There is a lot of joy in being a newbie to cider.
When I think about my cider consumption growing up, I think about the brands I saw out at parties and in bars. Angry Orchard, Woodchuck, and Strongbow cider. I didn’t hate them, but never found myself grabbing a second bottle or going out of my way to purchase or explore cider. There is no apple-picking here. The selection was limited, and I remember only a few next to the sea of craft beer which was huge at the time.
I started my wine journey in a similar way. Drinking big brands and never felt the need to go out of my way to learn more or find out what I really liked. Didn’t grow up near vineyards or with wine around.
I was working in restaurants and attending school for Hospitality Management. Looking back, there were 3 things that I think helped me find a passion for wine.
1. Deciding to take a wine class where I got to taste a lot and meet other people interested in wine
2. Having a cliché “aha” moment with a wine that I enjoyed
3. Wanting to learn more, explore different regions, and styles
It has been over 10 years since that class and the “aha” moment that eventually caused me to want to work in wine. I have worked in a wine bar and in wine distribution. I’m going to be honest with you - the excitement of learning about wine has faded a bit. I find myself struggling to pick up wine books again. **looking at the giant unopened The New French Wine in the corner** Don’t get me wrong I still love wine and it has been my career and main source of memes for years, but that joy of being a complete newbie is missing.
What I do want to share with you today is the things that happened that got me to feel that joy again, but this time for a different fermented beverage… cider!
There are a few producers and moments that have led me to drink more cider. I’m seeing more choices than ever out there and am excited to learn and taste more.
Wine Bar Cider
At the wine bar I worked at we had a pear, apple, and quince cider available by the glass. Bonny Doon Vineyard Querry Cider. It was the first time I found a cider that I really enjoyed and also the first time I saw one in 750ml. I bought bottles every now and then to take home after a long shift. It was low in alcohol (7%-ish), slightly bubbly, super aromatic, and refreshing. I haven’t seen it around in a while but it looked like this:
Surprise Aged Cider
My next memorable cider experience was when I received some Fable Farm sparkling apple-grape-seaberry wine from Viticole Wine Club (the wine club is closing at the end of 2024) I had honestly forgotten about the cider in my wine fridge for about 2 years. I had some friends over and after a few bottles of wine, I found it in the back and decided to open it. I was worried it wouldn’t age well and we would be drinking apple cider vinegar, but woah! Was I wrong! We were all amazed by the complex aromas and wild flavors. It was hard to put words to it because I had never tried something quite like it before. It showed me the complexity of cider aromas and that aging could even be beneficial in some quality ciders.
I realize the last 2 were apples with other fruit, but this one is all apples. I was out to dinner in 2021 at Tail Up Goat in DC. The Sommelier Bill surprised our table with some Eden Heirloom Blend Ice Cider with dessert. I was familiar with Ice Wines and had studied in books how they were made, but this was my first Ice Cider. It opened my mind to new cider flavors, the versatility of cidermaking, and more importantly, showed me that there was a lot more that I may be missing out on in the world of cider.
Okay, so I didn’t seek out cider after that great experience, but there was a new cider I saw popping up at my some of favorite wine shops. It was called Bardos Cider. I kept seeing it on the shelf next to a few other ciders but never bought a bottle. I always ended up buying a bottle of wine instead. Then one night I was on a keg in a wine bar Sidewalk Bottle Shop had it on draft! It was my chance to try it without buying a whole bottle. Me and my friend ordered it by the glass and loved it. It was tart, zippy, and had lovely fermented flavors. I do not recall the exact label they had on the keg, but here is a picture of a keg and the Cidery website.
Disgorgeous Cider Season
Not long after tasting the Bardos Cider, Disgorgeous “A podcast about wine, a cool lifestyle brand, and a zine” (link to buy zine) Started a podcast season all about cider. They interviewed producers and people in the cider industry. The hosts of the podcast both worked on the cider side of the beverage industry before working in wine. Episodes 242-245 are all about cider. Along with some great bonus episodes available through their Patreon. I realized out of all the ciders producers they had discussed I had only tasted one. After hearing a bit more about the producers, styles, and parallels to the world of wine - I was on the look out for cider now more than ever. I remember when visiting the Disgorgeous studio there was an awesome book on the table called Odd Apples by William Mullan full of beautiful photos of apple varieties.
I recently wrote a Substack on my experience at ABV Ferments. But what I didn’t really dive into was all the incredible ciders that were there. Some producers that attended were interviewed or featured on the podcast I had heard a month earlier. I got a chance to taste a lineup from Patois Cider, Green Point Cidery, Left Bank Ciders, Eden Ciders, and more. I had never tasted that many in one day. It was wonderful seeing cider and wine in the same room - along with fermented beverages made from native grapes, hybrids, regional fruit, and grains. After the event I met William of Odd Apples from the book above, who had also done the labels of NOK Vino. It was a cool full-circle moment. I remember loving all the apple & grape co-ferments and ciders I tried. Check out @abvferments on Instagram to see full list of producers. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a lot of notes on the exact labels I tasted - but check out these cider producers below:
One wine/cidermaker that I have been following the journey of on social media is Mad Marvlus. Owner Marreya Bailey often posts photos and behind-the-scenes looks into the production process. We collaborated on some giveaways for an event called TASTE Fest powered by The Bathing Collective. Keep an eye out for their events and projects in the future. I look forward to seeing more of her wines, ciders, and co-ferments out there! She also has a current crowdfunding campaign link below:
Cider from other parts of the world
I realize that everything I have spoken about was American cider. I am so new to the world of cider that I can probably count on 1 hand the number of ciders I remember that I have tried from other countries.
Antoine Marois Cidre Brut Jurassique
Want to be a newbie to cider with me?
I just purchased the audiobook of American Cider By Dan Pucci and Craig Cavallo and am about halfway through. The book is fascinating. I highly recommend it to any wine lovers or people who are curious about the world of cider.
Hope you enjoyed this post!
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Am also open to cider recommendations in comments!