Ciders are increasingly popular these days. They come in all shapes, sizes, and flavor varieties. But what makes something a “cider?”
Hard cider is another form of fermented fruit juice, typically made from apples. Apples are ground up and then that pulp is pressed in order to get the juice. From there, yeast is introduced which will convert the natural sugars in the juice into alcohol. After fermentation is complete, additional sugar or sweetened fruit juice may be added for additional sweetness and flavor. Some hard ciders undergo a secondary fermentation process, similar to champagne, in order to make them sparkling, however most commercial ciders simply have some carbonation added to them.
While this process sounds similar to wine, the main difference is the alcohol content. Because apples contain less natural sugars than ripe wine grapes, the alcohol content of cider is less than that of a dry wine – a wine where all of the natural sugars have been converted to alcohol. The alcohol content for ciders is generally under 7%, while the alcohol content for most dry wines is between 11%-16%. Wines that have an alcohol content below that of a cider are sweet wines where fermentation was stopped before all of the natural sugar could be converted to alcohol. A cider’s sweetness comes from sugar being added after fermentation is complete, as opposed to stopping fermentation early.
Ciders are popular because they have less alcohol than wine and are gluten free, unlike beer. Since they often come in smaller containers, they are also a great alternative for parties, cookouts and other fun group gatherings.