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Merridale Cider is available at Crepe Montagne and Blackcomb Beer and Wine Store in Whistler, Howe Sound Brewing in Squamish, and Liberty Wine stores throughout West and North Vancouver and the Lower Mainland.
Getting to know your cider
Tasting cider is much like tasting wine: you can appreciate its colour, clarity, bouquet, sparkle and other notable characteristics.
Cider ranges in colour from a pale champagne cast to clear canary yellow or, in the darker tones, from light apricot to topaz or dark amber. The colour all depends on the type of apples used and the way the cider was made. Too dark a colour is a bad sign too much oxidation. Some ciders have a natural rose tint from red-skinned crab apples.
Younger ciders are hazy from all the spent yeast particles, pectin and vegetable matter. Aged ciders should be clear. Only pour the top two-third to seven-eighths of the bottle to avoid stirring up the lees that have settled.
Whatever apples were used to make the cider should lend their aroma to it. And when it comes to tasting, look for sweetness in the front of your mouth and bitterness along the sides at the back of your tongue. Ideally, the two qualities are balanced, along with the acidity, in a way thats pleasing and tempered by the natural taste of the apples used. Sometimes youll also detect floral or spicy overtones, depending on the apple.
The best cider is made from apples which are bitter (high in tannins), and sharp (high in acid). Remember the way your mouth puckers with a sip of strong tea? Thats the effects of tannin at work it can be bitter and/or astringent.
Cider in the kitchen
Cider is the noble centrepiece of Norman cuisine, which is based on apple spirits, cream and seafood. Since many people in the Quebec countryside are descended from Normans, you could do much worse than to take a page or three from a Québécois cookbook like Madame Benoits Ma cuisine au cidre . A few tips to get you started: try poaching fish in a good cider, or substituting cider in any recipe calling for white wine. Its great blended with cheese sauces and adds a nice zing to chicken, pork and veal dishes.
Glenda Bartosh is an award-winning freelance journalist who invents her own cider house rules.