This week, in honor of Valentine's Day, KCTS9 included a segment on cider as a new twist on Champagne. We agree with their sentiment, "forget opening a bottle of bubbly for Valentine's Day. Artisan hard cider is making a comeback in Washington state." If you missed it, watch the segment here!
Many see cider as a "new" alternative to Champagne – and we're, of course, happy for the interest. Indeed it is relatively a new movement in Washington and the Northwest. But cider's bubbly, corked-bottle format just may indeed have preceded Champagne as we currently know it. James Crowden's book, Ciderland, and James Russell's book, Manmade Eden both explore the history of cider and perry in England. According to historical documents they discovered, the use of coal in English glass manufacturing processes led to the ability to make higher-quality bottles that could bear the pressure from secondary in-bottle fermentation. It was the English cider & perry producers that honed the process of retaining this carbonation through the use of a larger cork, tied in place. From there, French expert Dom Perignon further refined the process for use with bubbly grape wines. In fact, perry enjoyed a heyday in the mid-19th century as England's prized sparkling drink.
We, however, are still trying to find the best place for cider. And so are others in the industry. But really we're probably over-thinking it. It's cider, afterall – it's its own thing. At our tasting room, we serve tastes in tall flutes. But when we sit down to enjoy a glass, lately we've been opting for something with a wider bowl to it, something that can hold the complex aromas, and still displays the color and light bubbles well.
How do you like to drink your cider?