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Rewriting the Cider House Rules

Attention, cider aficionados: Tom Wark has launched The Cider Journal, a website designed to celebrate “the American cider revival.”

The Cider Journal by Tom Wark   In case you’re not familiar with Wark, he writes a daily wine blog called Fermentation, which is one of the most influential wine blogs on the web. If you doubt that we’re in the midst of a cider revival, do a search for cider on the Total Wine website. You’ll come up with an astonishing 189 items---and no one can claim that we live in apple country.

   Apple cider (sometimes referred to as hard cider) was once regarded as America’s drink, and was produced for home use at just about every farm in the apple-growing states. Commercial cider is usually made from a blend and pasteurized before bottling. The alcohol level hovers in the range of 5-8%, equivalent to the top craft beers; anything above 10% is classified as apple wine.

   According to Nielsen, sales of hard cider in the U.S. jumped 85% over the 12 months ending March 31. Wark believes that the cider revival is strongly tied to feelings of nostalgia for a lost America, and notes that many of the great craft ciders are made from heirloom varieties that are largely forgotten. He also cites more practical reasons to drink cider. It’s gluten-free, goes very well with food, and is made in a diversity of styles.

   Best of all, the top artisan ciders are excellent values. Wark states that “The best hard ciders in America will generally cost you less than $20 for a 750ml bottle, and often, they will cost far less.” His most highly-rated picks bear this out: Oregon’s EZ Orchards Cider is $13 and Le Pere Jules from Normandie is $12, as is Oliver’s Bittersweet Funk Dry Cider from Herefordshire.

   What better time than summer for an introduction to hard cider? Let the Cider Journal be your guide.


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