The American Thanksgiving holiday has over the years become invested with such a variety of meanings. It is a holiday that speaks to faith, history, traditions, food, commercialism, sports, and family. Surely though there remains room to give this holiday one more bit of meaning. Surely Thanksgiving can and should be the day we also honor American Hard Cider.
Of late, wine has taken over the Thanksgiving table as the beverage of choice. In many ways this feels like a default choice. With it being the Holiday most associated with food and feasting, Thanksgiving has given itself over to the beverage most associated with food: wine. Additionally, the more common alcoholic beverages, beer and spirits, simply don’t possess the complexity that wine does to match well with Thanksgiving foods. And neither do beers nor spirits possess the celebratory character that wine has appropriated.
But then there is cider. Hard Cider. There is a very strong case to be made that Hard Cider is the proper, the appropriate and most obvious drink to place on the Thanksgiving table.
1. Hard Cider is the Original American Beverage. Long before beer and wine wiggled their way into the American consciousness, Hard Cider was the drink of choice in all the original colonies and states. It was made in the home and served in the pub and supported thousands of acres of apples trees. Why shouldn’t America’s day of Thanksgiving celebrate America’s original drink of choice.
2. Thanksgiving Food is Hard Cider Food. Today there is a hard cider perfect for every dish on the Thanksgiving table. The variety of styles of craft cider now being produced in abundance provide us with numerous options for gamey fowl, savory stuffings, buttery vegetables, creamy soups and even ambrosia. Dry Ciders, sweet ciders, sparkling ciders, still ciders, high tannin ciders, acidic and refreshing ciders. All of it is available to match what goes on the table.
3. High Quality, Craft Cider is Affordable. You can purchase the best ciders made in America for under $30 a bottle, with most of the best American hard ciders coming in at under $20 for 750 ml. bottles. How much would you have to spend to put the finest American wines on your Thanksgiving table? $100? $200? Celebrating with the best hard cider saves.
4. The Proliferation of Cider Means You Can Stay Regional. For many, Thanksgiving has become an opportunity to celebrate regional American cuisines. Look in any food magazine and behold, “The Southern Thanksgiving”, “Celebrating Thanksgiving Pacific Northwest Style” or “A New England Thanksgiving”. It turns out that you can find truly wonderful, complex hard ciders in numerous styles across New England, In the Mid Atlantic States, up and down the Eastern Seaboard, in Texas, all along the West Coast, in the Rocky Mountain States and in the Midwest.
If you need any more reasons to make Thanksgiving the Hard Cider Holiday, consider these outstanding American Ciders, all of which are guaranteed to match the traditional Thanksgiving table.
West County Cider “Reine de Pomme” – 5 STARS – Massachusetts
A semi dry and savory cider that is rich and substantial. ($16.00/ 750ml.)
Tilted Shed Ciderworks Semi-Dry Graviva Cider – 4.5 STARS – California
A superbly balanced, semi-sweet Cider from Sonoma County – 14/99 / 750ml.
Eve’s Cidery 2013 “Beckhorn Hollow” Sparkling Dry Cider – 4.5 STARS – New York
Bright apple aromas and flavor drive this tart, higher alcohol cider – $13.99/750ml.
Tradition Ciderworks 2012 Afton Field Dry Farmhouse Cider – 4 STARS – Oregon
A single-orchard cider featuring floral, vanilla and apple notes – $20.00/ 750ml.
Argus Cidery Malus Cuvee – 3.5 STARS – Texas
A dry and elegant Cider from Texas with tart apple sauce and funk – $26.00 / 750ml.