Autumn is here and this means harvest time for an abundant range of vegetables and fruits. Market stalls are currently brimming with freshly harvested goods. However, not everything makes its way to the customer in integral form. This is also the season where freshly harvested apples and pears end up being fermented and bottled up as craft cider.
We are also fast approaching Halloween, followed by Thanksgiving and then it is right into the festive season once again.
Though large dinner parties for this years’ festivities might not be on the cards, you are possibly still planning to celebrate with a nice menu and something nice to drink even if only with your most closest family members or even just a diner for two.
Chances are many of you will stick to the traditional foods while some might want to try something more unusual.
Either way, have you ever considered to pair your festive meal with a craft cider instead of wine?
You might be in for a real pleasant surprise.
Honestly, it has taken me a while to appreciate cider. Perhaps because in Germany apple cider or apple wine as it is called here, is mostly produced large-scale and typically tends to be on the sour side. It is also traditionally sold in bottles that equal unassuming water or lemonade bottles. Certainly not something you are looking to put on the table along a nice meal with friends.
My appreciation for cider changed when I discovered seasonally produced artisanal cider, also often referred to as craft cider.
Artisanal cider is usually made from 100% apple juice and is produced in a fermentation process that can take anywhere from six months to even a year.
Like wine, cider is a seasonal product with each vintage being different to the present as the ripening process of the fruits depends on each year’s weather and thus, they are never the same each year.
In addition, different types of apples are used to make craft cider and the final product ranges from acidic to mellow and tannic.
Finally, cider can be either sparkling or still, dry, or sweet.
Craft ciders are not only fantastic tasting and going well with a large range of food, they are also more stylishly bottled, either resembling wine or champagne bottles.
Another great reason to swap wine with cider at least every now and then is, cider is low in alcohol, usually just up to 7% ABV.
Now if you want to elevate your experience with craft cider even more, I definitely recommend you try a pear cider.
You might find this type of cider often referred to as Perry, which is well known in England and also has a long history in the north of France, in particular Normandy and Anjou as well. That said, I am pretty much aware about the ongoing and partly heated discussion that is taking place between perry aficionados and those that put pear cider in perry into the same box. I will leave this to anybody’s own opinion but in this post, I do use the two as a synonym albeit the pear ciders I am discussing below actually go as pear ciders by their labels.
Like apple cider, pear cider or Perry is made from pears that are not suitable for eating. Indeed, the so-called ‘perry pears’ are full of acids and tannins.
Perry is said having been a favourite drink of Napoleon who called it ‘English champagne’.
To make craft pear cider, perry pears are fermented on the wild yeast which is growing on their skins and the result is a lighter, drier, and sweeter version of cider. That sweetness comes from pears containing sorbitol, which is a sugar alcohol that yeasts cannot metabolize during fermentation. Which is resulting in a residual sweetness you will not find in dry apple cider.
Pear cider typically features a pale straw colour and sometimes even leans towards a lightly green shade – compared to the more orange-like apple cider.
Which food to pair with pear cider
Cider is a perfect drink when it comes pairing it with food. However, the drier and sweeter style of pear cider calls for more delicate foods.
Pear cider works particularly well with fish, especially when cooked or complimented with a creamy sauce. It also works well with chicken or pork dishes complemented with apples and pears, as they are served in many different styles during autumn.
In addition, pear and pumpkin is a quite classic pairing and I really like to pair pear cider with a slightly sweet pumpkin soup or a pumpkin quiche.
Finally, I also like to pair a sparkling pear cider with apple or pear Tart Tatin or a chocolate and pear cake.
What are the best pear ciders
Unlike craft apple ciders which over recent years have been strongly on the rise and can be found fairly easily in most locations around the world, artisanal pear ciders are still harder to find.
There are however more and more producers especially in Normandy but increasingly also in other locations who create some fantastic pear ciders worth looking for.
Below, I have listed four excellent pear ciders I recommend trying.
Poiré Granit, Domaine Eric Bordelet
Domain Eric Bordelet is located in southern Normandy, France. The estate is owned and run by Eric Bordelet since 1992 but belongs to the family already since the early 1800s.
The estate specializes in ciders from apples, pears and cormes and also produces its own Calvados. The various types of ciders made on the estate clearly show owner Eric Bordelet used to be a sommelier (in fact once working at a 3-star restaurant in Paris) as he is clearly applying the process of winemaking to his refined ciders.
Perhaps the flagship of the Domaine Eric Bordelet pear ciders, the Poiré Granit is already a highlight to look at. The elegant bottle clearly resembles a classic Champagne bottling and features an elegantly designed label in dark blue and silver-grey.
This particular pear cider consists of up to 20 different pear varieties depending of the year, in part from trees which are between 200 to 300 years old.
Pears are picked on the domaine by hand between September and December and then made into juice in a carful process. Fermentation later takes place in wood barrels and concrete tanks.
Poiré Granit offers a subtle acidity that gives the cider a great freshness and makes it perfect for a large range of foods.
Poiré Authentique, Domaine Eric Bordelet
I usually like to try far and wide if I go for wines or other beverages rather than sticking to one label only. But given the range of excellent pear ciders is still limited, I decided to try the second variety from Eric Bordelet.
Poiré Authentique presents itself in a slightly more casual design, with a simpler bottle and minimalist albeit still beautiful label.
It is marketed as a semi-dry perry and with only 5% alcohol is an easy-to-drink cider.
Poiré Authentique pairs perfectly with delicate seafood and cheese.
Krystin Pur, Krystin Cidres Sasha Crommar
AOC-trained cider-maker Sasha Crommar makes his innovative ciders in the Bretagne region of France.
The slightly unusual name of this estate lies in Sasha Crommar’s own roots. His family originally comes from Scotland and whilst they relocated to France during the 14th century, Sasha still feels strongly connected to Celtic culture. Therefore, he chose the name Krystin which means chestnut in ancient Breton.
Cidre Cuvee Pur is made from seventeen different old pear varietals. It offers a light, fruity aroma and only has a 2% VOL alcohol. It pairs well to a wide variety of food such as delicate fish and seafood as well as cheese.
If you want to try something even more unusual, try Crommar’s Cidre Kalysie, made from more than 12 different pear varietals and freshly squeezed ginger juice. Meanwhile, Kystin Cuvee XVII Chataigne is made from different apple varieties and chestnuts.
Brandbirne, Jörg Geiger
Literally meaning ‚burned or frying pear‘, this pear cider from Germany is made from the pear variety Champagne frying pear. In fact, Brandbirne produced by craft cider maker Manufaktur Jörg Geiger is referred to as sparkling pear wine rather than cider.
The Champagne frying pear is one of the oldest pear varieties home in the Baden Württemberg area in Germany, and said to be one of the best ‘wine’ pears.
Pear cider Brandbirne offers an aroma of ripe pears with subtle notes of meadow herbs and white flowers. On the palate, it is dry with a slightly nutty finish.
Brandbirne sparkling pear wine pairs perfectly to fish or slightly sweet and tart starters.
Do you like drinking cider? Have you ever tried a pear cider? Let me know about your experience.