Hard Cider: Not a Hard Sell
Hard cider is a fast-growing segment of the beverage market these days. After little exposure to this delicious, satisfying and low-alcohol beverage, I was suddenly given the opportunity to taste it everywhere I went in the last year or so. I tasted local bottlings in Southwest Colorado at a weekend festival, in France with Bretton-style galettes (savory buckwheat crepes), and in Germany at Christmas market stalls.
Handcrafted, small production ciders really highlight the fresh taste of the quality apples used in them. Many, like several I tasted recently in Normandy, France, are dry and elegant with no cloying sweetness.
Some wonderful heirloom apple varieties are being used in today's artisinal ciders, such as the centuries-old Gravenstein variety, Pink Pearl, Burgundy and Akane varieties.
Alcohol levels run lower in imported ciders than in domestic, so you can find one to suit your tastes and requirements. Prices are reasonable for ciders too - from 5 Euros ($6) in France to $12-14 for California bottlings.