Yes, there is a Craft Cider renaissance underway in the United States. Yes, today drinkers have access to a much greater choice of ciders and cider styles than at any time in American history save, perhaps, for the 18th century. Yes, through numerous cider festivals, a growing number of cider pubs and other venues, we have the ability to taste numerous ciders at one time. So, why can’t we get ciders served in a proper vessel?
Here’s the real problem. If you drink cider merely to quench a thirst (and few alcoholic beverage do that better than cider) then the only requirement of the vessel that holds your cider is that it doesn’t leak and that it holds a decent amount of the stuff. However, if you savor the nuance of cider, if you are interested in appreciating cider, if you are comparing ciders, then you need something more than just the quality of non-leakage.
By far, the best vessel to use when trying to evaluate or appreciate the nuances of a good craft cider is a proper wine glass. Not a mug. Not a tumbler, not a highball glass. A wine glass. In particular, the glass should have a good-sized bowl to allow swirling, which releases the cider’s aromatic compound, and an opening that is smaller in diameter so that those aromas are funneled upward and made accessible.
I’ve experienced cider festivals, cider competitions and bars where the cider has been served in everything from shot glasses and plastic cups to highball glass and mugs in which the cider is filled to top. Not only is this unacceptable, but where fine craft cider is concerned, it’s extraordinarily disrespectful to the producers who something unique that goes beyond simply being a thirst quencher.
In the end, I think this problem goes back to their being too few people who take cider seriously in the same way wine, beer and spirits is taken seriously.
At The Cider Journal, we evaluate all ciders using the Gabriel-Glas StandArt Machine Fashioned Crystal Wine Glass produced in Austria. We like the wide bowl, elegant lines and narrow mouth. It’s sturdy, easy to clean, can take the gentle cycle in a dishwasher and for a well-built, elegant crystal glass is affordable at $29 per glass.
Fine craft cider is a product of a place, a time and a vision. At its best, a craft cider it is a singular product that should tell a story as well as satisfy a thirst. The very least we can do as cider lovers and the very least the cider industry and trade can do to honor the effort behind the drink is serve it in a vessel capable of showing it at its best.