Cider Corner: Where to Start in Creating a Food Pairing Menu?

Giving food recommendations to pair with your cider can be beneficial for in-house sales if you have food onsite. Or, it can be a great way to showcase your cider to foodies looking for the perfect complementing beverage at off-premise retail or on-premise restaurants.

Creating these different avenues of pairing menus can mean deciding if you are working from the cider you have or creating brands that pair well with certain types of cuisine.

Context and audience are key to creating a food pairing menu, noted Madison Shirley of 2 Towns Ciderhouse.

“If we are creating a pairing menu for a holiday meal, we’ll look at typical menu items and pair the cider to the food,” she said. “We follow a similar path when creating pairing menus for cider dinners. Working with the chef, we allow them to express their specialties and then find ciders that highlight the individual dishes.

Conversely, if we are releasing a new variety of cider, we will find food that accentuates the profile of the cider to underscore its unique characteristics. If we’re recommending a cider for a particular event, we’ll give general pairing options to help create a flavor picture prior to tasting.”

When High Limb Cider creates its ciders, Director of Operations Manager Jarrod Carter said they focus solely on the range and depth of its ingredients and how they can showcase them in the best way possible.

“There are plenty out there who offer amazing food in the Providence/Boston area alone so finding food to match our ciders has never been a hurdle,” he said.

Urban Tree co-owner and Cidermaker Jackie Annise said some of the Georgia cidery’s flavors have unique profiles so they begin with its flavors and identify foods that compliment them. “Much like a wine, a perfectly paired cider will add incredible compliment and enhanced flavor to the food it is accompanying,” Annise said.

When developing a food pairing, Carter thinks that one of the most effective and most fun ways to develop a menu is to offer products to a chef and have them use them in the actual food recipes.

“We have had a lot of success with this process in the past and currently our Maple Days maple cider is used to brine the short rib dish on the Rooftop as the Providence G in downtown Providence,” he said for an example.

Saro Cider owner Paige Duncan said that Cidermaker and President of Operations Eric Leyden has a unique talent for pairing foods and ciders.

“I think that he does not come at the task from specifically a food or cider side but considers an approach of complementing each element through matching unique flavors to enhance the experience of enjoying food and Saro Cider together,” she said.

Sometimes, pairings happen serendipitously.

“When a revelation happens, we’re often quick to share on our group chat so others may experience the bliss of a perfect pairing,” Shirley said. “Having a passion for your industry means that occasional homework is fun.”

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