Cider suffers from an image problem. Say the word cider, and people often conjure up something extra sweet and extra fizzy. A sort of adult excuse for a soda.
If you put an apple tree and the words "crisp, "fresh picked" or "straight from the orchard" on the label and advertise the heck out of it, people seem to think it's made from apples. Hey it works for national politics and it works for selling alcohol too.
The new visibility of this once obscure beverage is in large part due to the wide spread distribution and big advertising dollars of large beer companies and their 'beer alternative' brands. To a degree, the effect has been to define the category before it's even become one. This is a shame.
One of the most painful phrases I hear these days is "Oh no thanks, I don't want a glass of cider. It's too sweet for me." Another is "Why is your cider so expensive? Aggravated Prairie Dog cost half the price!"
On the other hand, after over a decade of making and selling cider I still get a thrill from being there when someone has their cider epiphany. "My gosh this is delicious. It's balanced! It goes with food! Like nothing I've ever had and yet like everything I love! What kind of wine is this?"
We are changing the world, one cider drinker at a time. Turning away from highly marketed, mass produced sugar water and drinking dry, expressive, orchard-based cider is not snobbery: the the original populism. Read your history books.
Here's how to explain this to Uncle Joe:
In this country, you can label something with a minimum of 51% apple or apple juice concentrate "Cider".
From an economic perspective, it costs the same to raise an acre of good cider apples as it does to raise an acre of good wine grapes. If you see a product labeled cider at a fraction of the cost, do the math. And remember- water is free. (for now)
Like the wine market, the cider market is segmented. At the bottom end of wine, you have wine coolers. At the bottom end of cider, you have cider coolers.
Real cider is the fermented juice of apples and is not inherently sweet. It is inherently NOT sweet, because the natural course of things is for the yeast to consume all the sugar and turn it into alcohol.
Dry cider, like dry wine pairs beautifully with food and has the ability to express the varieties it is made from and the land on which they were grown.
Opening minds with dry cider! It's more productive than arguing about the election. Thanks for reading, and thanks for being a good cider advocate.