Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.
There was a time, not that long ago, when it seemed like hard cider was consigned either to Rip Van Winkle-like New Englanders, long of beard and weird of brain, or the English. Well, that’s changed. In just the past few years, cider has become bizarrely popular: sales were up 62.6% in 2012. Woodchuck, the most popular brand, sold over two and a half million cases last year, and others weren’t far behind.
But cider and America have a long association. In fact, cider was far more popular than beer in Colonial times, largely due to the fact that it was a lot easier to grow apples than barley in New England. In the 1700s, we glugged cider like nobody’s business - about 35 gallons per year per person, on average. As a comparison, per person wine consumption in the US today is about 2.5 gallons per person, and beer is about 28 gallons per person.
Cider consumption may be minimal now compared to what it once was, but as I mentioned, it’s on the upswing. And there are some mighty good ciders out there. Here are a few, some from the U.S. and some from overseas, and all of them ideal for drinking icy-cold at a July 4th picnic - or any time, really.
Stella Artois Cidre
Samuel Smith’s Organic Cider
Foggy Ridge Cidery
Trabanco Cosecha Propria
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