It may seem like a bit of hyperbole, but, in truth, cider is a brilliant partner for any number of dishes. Given cider’s amazing versatility and the wide variety of ciders available on the market, it’s fair to say you can find a cider that will go well with pretty much anything. Cider’s comparatively moderate alcohol content, combined with its healthy acidity, is the essential key to cider’s pairing success. Add a bit of tannin to the mix and you just broaden the possibilities.
The principles of pairing a cider with food are much the same as when pairing with wine. At a basic level, heritage-style ciders with a strong connection to a particular region are a natural to accompany a food or dish from the same area. Consider drinking a bright, tart Asturian sidra naturale with a fabada of chorizo, cured pork, and beans, for example. Another clear winner is raw oysters paired with a dry, sparkling, prosecco-like cider made with a high-acid apple such as Northern Spy or an intense ice cider with an equally flavor-packed blue cheese.
It can be even more fun to think outside the expected boxes by following a few basic principles: matching intensity, complimentary or contrasting flavors, and palate cleansing. Here are five less obvious pairs that should be on your must-try list.
Chinese dim sum with a dry, still, high-tannin cider like Oliver’s Gold Rush #6. The roundness of a dry, tannic cider will cleanse your palate of all those rich umami notes without fighting their savory nature.
Grilled merguez sausage with a semi-dry, medium acid, softly astringent cider such as Angry Orchard’s Dear Brittany. The gaminess of the lightly spicy lamb contrasts brilliantly with the mild sweetness of the cider, while the soft tannins are deliciously cleansing.
Fresh goat cheese with a modern hopped cider like Finnriver Dry Hopped. The acidic nature of a fresh goat cheese can make for a challenging cider pairing, but the complimentary bitter herbal notes of hops do just the trick.
Margherita pizza with a botanicals-infused cider such as Seattle Cider’s Basil Mint or Wildcraft Cider’s Sage. The savory floral notes and clean tart finish of these ciders are right at home with sweet/tart tomato sauce and mild fatty mozzarella.
Tarte Tatin with a semi-dry, mildly astringent perry, such as Poiré de Poncary from France. Pears have two things that apples don’t—an unfermentable sugar called sorbitol and at least some amount of citric acid. These both come into play with this pairing, as the rich sweetness of the caramelized apples is matched by the sweetness of the perry leaving you with a mouthful of refreshing citrus. If your perry has been made with tannic perry pears, you’ll also get a dose of palate cleansing astringency that will ready you for that next delectable bite.