How Promoting Cider Pairings Can Help Enhance Upcoming Holiday Meals

With traditional holiday meals for Thanksgiving and Christmas being rich and encompassing many flavors and textures, dry hard natural cider offers a delicious and versatile choice.

Cider’s high acid will cut through the richness of the dishes and refresh the palate bite after bite, while its dryness balances the sweetness of dishes like sweet potatoes with marshmallows.

The apple flavors pair well with turkey and root vegetables, and the lower alcohol keeps it light. Here are some cider pairing tips for Thanksgiving and Christmas meals from experts Peter Yi, founder & cidermaker of Brooklyn Cider House, and Holly Berrigan, Sommelier and co-founder of MYSA Natural Wine, an e-commerce platform specializing in natural wines and ciders, including small batch craft ciders from Estonia, Canada & Germany.

A lot of what Yi and Berrigan shared can translate to any cidery’s portfolio and they shared with Brewer what sort of pairings work great and can be passed along to consumers to help boost fall sales.

“Cider is the perfect beverage for a holiday meal as it goes well with a wide variety of flavors and cuisines,” Yi said. “When made from made from 100% apples and nothing else like we do at Brooklyn Cider House, it’s a beverage that is very clean, very pure, and lower-ABV than wine, so you can drink more of it.

“It also makes your mouth salivate, which is great for food, especially a big meal.”

Yi was a wine buyer for many years before falling in love with cider during a wine trip to Spain. He sold his wine store, bought the 210 acre Twin Star Orchards in New Paltz, New York in 2015, planted 8,000 apple trees for cidermaking and launched the Brooklyn Cider House brand of natural hard ciders in late 2015.

Yi added that cider pairing is very similar to wine pairing — you look at the acidity, the tannic structure, and the sweetness.

“These three criteria help you to determine what type of food would work best,” Yi said. “If the dish has a high-fat content, you’ll want high acidity from the cider to balance it and cleanse your palate, so you’re ready for another bite. If the food is spicy, you’ll want a sweetness from the cider to counteract it.”

Brooklyn Cider House’s Kinda Dry and Half Sour can both amazing with Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinner, particularly with turkey and stuffing. The acidity and touch of sweetness in both ciders hold up stunningly alongside the bold and flavorful foods that are traditional for the holidays.

Added Yi: “For something richer, like a honey baked ham, I’d recommend Brooklyn Cider House Raw Cider because the acidity derived from the bitter cider apples helps cut through the luscious fat, and the low sugar levels make sure the meat doesn’t get overwhelmed by anything cloying while still bringing out those roasted, caramelized flavors.”

MYSA Natural Wine offers unique ciders from Ontario, Canada’s Revel Cider Co., Estonia’s Jaanihanso and Germany’s Weingut Schmitt, including a vintage brut (2015) and a dry-hopped one with American Simcoe hops.

Berrigan noted that we’re in peak cider pairing season right now with fall and she loves sparkling hard cider as an alternative during the holidays for appetizers for a few reasons:

  • It’s low ABV, which is great when you’re headed into a big meal that will likely pair with wine. “For Thanksgiving/holiday appetizers, it works really well with cheeses, especially soft ones like Brie or a curveball like a jalapeno popper,” she said.
  • It’s typically light and fresh on the palate, meaning it won’t exhaust a consumer’s taste buds before the main meal or after they’ve just finished one and want something a bit calmer.
  • “It’s peak apple season and who doesn’t want to add some more apples to their fall festivities,” she asked. “Cider is great with desserts too – Apple Pie! – but works with any fruit pie or crumble, really.”

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