MS Topic of the Week 12/26/2019 - Introductory & Certified

Big thanks to & for weighing in last week on Russian River.

This week: Cider

What's the difference b/w cider and perry? What varieties are classically used for both? Name 3 new world and 3 old world producers. Give us your ultimate pairing!

  • “Cider” is made from fermented crushed apples.  “Perry” is made from fermented crushed pears.  But just as cider is not made from any old supermarket apple, perry is not made from your average pear but instead from special “perry pears.”  Perry is sometimes referred to as “pear cider,” though there seems to be some disagreement over whether the two names are interchangeable. For example, the British organization “Campaign for Real Ale” said, “Calling something 'pear cider' when in our view it is nothing of the sort is wrong. You don't make an alcoholic drink from potatoes and call it whisky.”

    Compared with your average eating pear, perry pears have more tannin, acid, and phenolic compounds.  Common “perry pears” are the Thorn, the Barland, and the Brandy varieties.  The finished product “perry” differs from cider in that it is less aromatic, is more astringent, and has a high content of naturally-occurring sorbitol.  As the sorbitol is not converted into alcohol by yeast, it means a higher RS level than many ciders.  While cider can be produced dry to sweet or anywhere in between, perry tends to be produced sweet (though there are some dry varieties out there).  Perry pears also have flesh that is tougher than apples, and some producers introduce enzymes to the pears to aid in the crushing process.  New World producers of perry include:  Eve’s Cidery (USA), Portland Cider Company (USA), and Harcourt Perry & Cider (Australia).  Old World producers of perry include:  Eric Bordelet (France), Le Pere Jules (France), and Dunkertons Perry (UK).

    There are many types of cider and many types of apples used in making cider.  Three common varieties are the Gravenstein, Newtown Pippin, and Winesap; and as one might expect, these varieties are also often used in baking.  Cider styles are nearly limitless and include hopped, spiced, sour, iced, sparkling, and even wood-aged.  New World producers of cider include:  Seattle Cider Company, Citizen Cider, and Tieton Cider Works (all USA).  Old World producers of cider include:  Bulmers (Ireland), Herout a Auvers (France), and Atshcel (Germany).

    Classic pairings with sweet cider:  roast pork (duh!), ham (duh, again!), and pasta with any creamy, salty sauce. Classic pairings with sweet perry:  chicken pot pie, glazed pork chops, and quiche.  MY ULTIMATE PAIRING:  I’m a fan of a cheese pizza (tomato base) paired with any semi-sweet cider.  Hold the anchovies, please.

    Fun fact:  Perry trees produce fruit for up to 300 years, which apparently led to the phrase “plant perry pears for your heirs.”

    I can’t believe I researched this for the last 96 minutes.  Talk about going down the rabbit hole!  And now I need some perry…