One of the hottest drinks trends right now is cider and food pairing. From matching sweet ciders with Thai salads, to drinking a rich, full cider with a hearty lentil pie, 2016 is set to be a big year for matching cider with food.
Thatchers, one of the UK’s best-loved cider producers, asked me to share with you my thoughts on cider and food pairing, and I’ve had a great time discovering the nuances of different ciders and how they work with food.
Thatchers have provided me with a case of cider and some merchandise to give away one lucky UK reader aged over 18! Scroll down for the giveaway.
Now, I’m not a food pairing expert, but I love food, I love cider, and I love discovering how flavours can work together. My blog is based around creating unusual recipes that may surprise people, but they work: kale and orange marry well in a smoothie, so I put them together in a cupcakes. Cauliflower and chocolate share flavour traits, so I put them together in a crazy ice lolly. Flavours, tastes and textures can be complex, but once you understand the basics of why they work together, your mind is opened up to new ideas. Here, I hope my findings will help you to bring cider from the festival field to the dinner table.
Discover the latest trend of cider and food pairing
Food and wine pairing has long been popular and is something of an art. Recently, the craft beer movement has been getting in on the act with food and beer pairing. But now, it’s cider’s turn in the limelight.
I know the Thatchers brand very well and have sampled their ciders quite often. Very often. Like, a lot. At Thatchers, they have a real passion for the art of cider-making and use traditional techniques to make quality ciders, but to me, they simply make my favourite cider. Recently, the Somerset-based family firm have been promoting cider and food pairing, spurring this trend forward.
The fruity notes of cider compliment a huge range of foods. At first that sounds surprising, but when I looked into just how many dishes pair well with apples, it became obvious to me that apple cider will match well loads of meals.
Here are just a few foods that pair well with apples:
Fruit: blackberries, blueberries, mango, orange, pear, pineapple
Vegetables: rhubarb, beetroot, squash, celery, red cabbage
Meat and fish: gammon, sausages, black pudding, chicken, liver, oysters, mussles, game
Herbs and spices: star anise, cinnamon, clove, vanilla, nutmeg, rose, ginger, rosemary, thyme
Nuts: almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts
Cheese: cheddar, camembert, goats cheese, gorgonzola, stilton
On a broad level, I find that rich and full ciders will pair well with heavier, wintery foods, such as stews, squash-based dishes, curries, meat or lentil pies, French onion soup and dishes with wintery spices such as sage and cinnamon. Lighter, delicately fruity, sweet ciders will compliment summery dishes from green salads and vegetable quiches to a mango chilli noodle dish.
We can drill down further to match the specific blends of cider, since sweetness, dryness, fruitiness, fizz levels and acidity will affect how well the cider pairs with specific dishes.
Thatchers Cider – They know their apples
Thatchers use traditional techniques and the expertise they’ve honed since 1904 to craft the finest range of Somerset ciders. Four generations of cider-making later, they’ve created some exceptional ciders on their 400 acres of apple orchards.
Thatchers has long been my drink of choice, particularly Thatchers Gold. To me, and many others, it’s the perfect balance of sweetness and dryness. But I’ve been delighted to try out more of their range.
Here’s an introduction to a few ciders in the Thatchers range (note: all Thatchers ciders are vegan and gluten-free!):
Thatchers Gold (4.8% ABV)
– Medium to medium-dry
– Fruity wtih hints of honey with floral notes
I would match a medium/dry sparkling cider, like the ever-popular Thatcher’s Gold, with spicy dishes like a Thai curry, jalfrezi or Mexican enchiladas. The fizz would also cut nicely through the fattiness of fish and chips, burgers and creamy curries.
If you want one good all-rounder cider to pair with food, try Thatcher’s Gold. It pairs with lots of dishes so it’s the perfect starting point.
Thatchers Haze(4.5% ABV)
– Crisp, sweet
– Naturally cloudy
– Low carbonation
Thatchers Haze is a contemporary, approachable cider made with Jonagold apples. I would match a crisp sweet cider like this with apple crumbles and cakes, and it would also pair with roasted pork and hams. On the cheese board, I would serve it alongside gorgonzola and stilton.
I would use the sweetness of this cider to pair with rich dishes, such as a casserole or stew, or to cut through the spiciness of a jalfrezi or vindaloo. On the other hand, I would also use it’s very refreshing nature to pair it with the most summery of dishes, like salads and vegetable tarts as well as barbecued meats and vegetables, fruit salads, coleslaw and soft tacos.
Thatchers Katy (7.4% ABV)
– Light and fruity
– Aromas of pear and jasmine
– Lightly sparkling
I would compliment a light, sparkling cider, like Thatchers Katy, a single-variety cider, by pairing it with Thai green curry, mango and chilli noodle salad, miso and ginger roasted cauliflower or pasta with a light, creamy spinach and lemon sauce.
To balance the lightness of this cider, I would also pair it with goats cheese dishes such as filo tart with goats cheese, roasted tomatoes and thyme.
Thatchers Vintage (7.4% ABV)
– Mature, oak-aged
– Softly fruity
– Lightly sparkling
Thatchers Vintage is aged in 100 year old oak vats, giving it a distinctive flavour. This is a nicely complex, full cider, so I’d pair it with robust meals such as pies or a spicy, rich, curry to really compliment it. With it’s earthier flavours, I would also pair it with puy lentil dishes, pulled pork, mushroom pizza or pasta with a creamy caper sauce.
Over the coming months, I’ll be bringing you more articles about food and cider pairing. I’m excited to bring you more information about matching different ciders to meals, cheese and how to cook with it.
To be in with a chance of winning a case of cider and merchandise from Thatchers, all you have to do is enter via the Rafflecopter widget below. This giveaway is open to UK entrants aged over 18 only and runs until midnight on 30 April 2016. The winner’s age will be verified.
Terms and conditions:
This giveaway is open to **UK entrants aged 18 and over only** and runs until midnight on 30 April 2016.
The winner will be announced on the Rafflecopter widget after the prize has been claimed.
There is 1 prize of a case of Thatchers Cider plus some merchandise. The brand reserves the right to alter the prize.
There is no cash alternative and the prize is not transferable.
The winner will be picked at random and then contacted via email.
Veggie Desserts, as the promoter, reserves the right to cancel or amend the giveaway and these terms and conditions without notice.
If the winner doesn’t respond to the email within 5 days, another winner will be picked.
The prize will be delivered to the winner as soon as possible by the brand directly.
So, what you think about this trend for cider and food pairing? At your next dinner party will you forego the wine and try pairing each course with cider or perhaps organise a cider and food sampling night? Let me know in the comments!