Cider might be more associated with sunshine drinking than mealtime pairings, but real cider that has been carefully crafted by hands-on producers is one of the most food-friendly beverages there is. If you’re looking for tips on how to approach pairing Irish food and cider, who better to look to than Caroline Hennessy and Kristin Jensen’s book, Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer and Cider, from which the following extract has been taken with the authors’ kind permission. Over to you, Caroline and Kristin:
“You might be surprised by how many foods can be paired with cider. Its natural fruitiness makes it easy to drink and easy to pair with food, plus its low ABV keeps things nice and light, making it a good choice for a midweek meal or those times when you want to relax with a glass of something but need to stay sharp to get through the rest of the week.
Dry ciders and sweet ciders are not created equal when it comes to matching cider and food, so take note of which kind you have at home or which you prefer and go from there. ‘For food and cider matching, classic cider, made from classic cider apples such as Dabinett or Michelin in Ireland, has all the elements of a red wine: body, tannin and acidity, but obviously much less alcohol. Therefore with food you’d look for something in opposition to balance these elements – a protein, so meat and cheese,’ advises Emma Tyrrell from Cider Ireland. ‘That said, cider is a milder flavour, so you wouldn’t necessarily look for anything as strong as game or lamb, but rather pork or chicken, or for cheese, a Brie or Camembert. Sweeter cider would work well with food with freshness and acidity, with hard and tangier cheeses or milder blue cheese.’
The same guidelines that apply to matching beer and food apply to cider too: decide whether you want to complement or contrast flavours, pair like with like and think seasonally.
For more information on Irish cider history, production and styles, see the excellent ‘Cider House Rules’ chapter in Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer and Cider by Caroline Hennessy and Kristin Jensen, published by New Island and available on Amazon.