Friday, October 9, 2009

Quick and easy cider tasting: Break the tasting party mold

You can hold a cider tasting.

Hold a quickly put together, casual, festive, but rarely offered gathering which you can put together with two simple stops and a few calls to invite friends around cocktail hour.

If you had not considered cider a great source of merriment before, it might interest you to know there are more ciders in production that one might imagine. There are hundreds of varieties between the cider poured at apple orchards in my hometown, and the proliferation of hard ciders which are naturally especially apparent in the fall. One could hold a cider tasting in the autumn as easily as a wine tasting.

And I dare say, you should: Quick and painless for the host or hostess, pleasant, new, and a breath of fresh air for the guests.

Cider takes many different forms beyond the standard white-label sparkling variety with which we are all familiar. Begin at the liquor store in collusion with your merchant. If you have a good one, they will instruct you in the finer points of the ciders available to you. You might consider fresh, dry, medium-dry, sweet, champagne, French, or English to offer to your guests. As you can see, one company alone makes enough to throw an easy soiree...

You may find some fabulous serving vessels. Cider's popularity was like that of beer during the 18th and 19th centuries, and like beer it had serving vessels all its own. A cider glass, a long stemmed version of a pilsner, which holds a pint of cider can be hard to find but a pilsner makes a good stand-in. A handled hot cider cup, often in sterling and pewter with a glass inset held hot ciders but can be easily replaced by glass punch cups.

Attractive and functional glass rentals of pilsners can be had from your local party supply for very little and are more practical than storing 40 pilsners.

Then, add a couple of signature cider cocktails for good measure; A Mulled Cider with Calvados or a Wassail punch spiked with brandy or spiced rum would round out the offerings nicely, just be sure you have cocktail standards for those who are not cider fans.

Serve a selection of great nibbles: Get the local cheese shop or counter's help in selecting a mix of cheeses to present with the cider. They will also have a more interesting variety of crackers than the supermarket. You might also include the cider fondue which I uncovered for you last year, and should you need them, Blushing's fondue service and etiquette tips appear here.

What do you think? Are a cider tasting and some great cocktail snacks your future?

Read more about cider's popularity throughout history here.

Photo credits: Jahn Hayes, Dragon Orchard Cider, anylea, Southern Living, weddingteeparties


EntertainingMom said...

I'm admittedly not a huge fan of most ciders... I am chairing and organizing a wine tasting as a fund raiser for our school... I will have one on a much smaller scale at home with friends. But we'll see how the big event goes first... gotta work out all the kinks!

Jennifer Fabulous said...

This is a fabulous idea!! I might actually have to do this soon. I love hosting fall parties and casual get togethers. :)

Karena said...

Lovely alternatives to a tradition for autumn!

Beth Dunn said...

What an adorable idea. I love all ciders. xoxox


Teacats said...

I LOVE cider -- especially Strongbow! Lovely with a platter of cheeses, cut apples, pears and a selection of crackers plus bowls of nuts to pass around your guests. Also lovely when used in homemade chicken soup! My secret ingrediant! LOL~!

Jan at Rosemary Cottage

tintin said...

As a recent convert to ultra dry ciders, I must confess they have amazing complexity and an almost champagne like mouth feel. The best are no more than $10 a bottle. Take a look at Farnum Hills. Not so easy to get in the southeast but available in Chicago and NYC. Well worth the effort.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

I love cider. There was a business in this town years ago, and they had an open house every fall with mulled apple cider. They got the cider fresh from an apple market, and it was divine. That was such a nice treat for their customers to be treated to that delicious mulled cider. Loved it, and I love those cider mugs pictured in the photograph, too!