What is Cider?
Cider, similar to wine, is simple. It consists primarily of fermentable juice from whole fruit and yeast. Unlike wine, it has similar alcohol levels to beer and can be flavored with other fruits, herbs, and spices. Cider is produced in a variety of sweetness levels from dry to sweet, with carbonation levels varying from still to sparkling.
Over the years, the category of cider has encompassed perry (fermented pear juice) and other subdivisions. For example, ice cider is cider in which juice is concentrated before fermentation to produce a more alcoholic and acidic cider. If cider is made with a particular region’s apples, such as New England apples, it’s called a New England cider.
Cider is produced in cideries, similar to breweries and meaderies, and is considered its own beverage category.
Cider has history. Although it’s not currently as popular as other alcoholic libations like wine and beer, it’s been around for quite some time. Many cultures in Europe—English, Spanish, French—have consumed cider, with each culture forming its own terroir.
The first recorded evidence of fermented cider is from around 55 BCE, when Romans marched into England and found locals fermenting the juice of apples into an alcoholic beverage. Which is, basically, the definition of cider: fermented juice of apples or pears.
In early America, cider was a popular drink because it was easier to make than beer and safer for colonists to drink than potentially contaminated water. It was also believed to be an aid to digestion and promote longevity. John Adams routinely drank a tankard of hard cider to start his day and lived to be 91. Just sayin’.
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