Ciders are just right for a warm sum­mer night in the Kawarthas

The Peterborough Examiner - - Arts & Life - SHARI DAR­LING Shari Dar­ling's books and other publi­ca­tions are avail­able at un­der­stand­pub­lish­ing.com

A few weeks ago I vis­ited wine­maker John Rufa at Kawartha Coun­try Wines. He has once again pro­duced an­other line of de­li­cious ciders.

Cider is an ap­ple-based, tasty, low al­co­hol, gluten-free bev­er­age. It’s an ideal sip­per for hot sum­mer evenings and to pair with bar­be­cued pork and chicken. Off-dry white wines pos­sess enough sweet­ness to nicely off­set hot and spicy or fruit­based bar­be­cued sauces. Also, I’m not a fan of serv­ing wine out­side. Wine glasses can shat­ter and I refuse to serve wine in plas­tic cups. Also, out­side din­ing smells and nasal sen­sa­tions like the smoke from your grill, cig­a­rette smoke, the breeze, or chlo­ri­nated pool wa­ter can eas­ily de­stroy a wine’s sub­tle char­ac­ter. Serv­ing wine out­side al­most seems sac­ri­fi­cial.

On the other hand, cider seem less se­ri­ous to me. It re­freshes the palate, served with a wedge of le­mon or lime and over ice. Cider can also be a tasty in­gre­di­ent to add to sum­mer cock­tails to en­joy be­fore din­ner.

To pre­pare Cider-Bour­bon Cock­tail fill a cock­tail shaker with ice. Add a three quar­ter cup of cider, one-third cup of bour­bon, 2 ta­ble­spoons of fresh le­mon juice, and 2 thin slices of peeled fresh gin­ger. Shake to com­bine and strain cock­tail into 2 glasses. Gar­nish each with a slice of fresh green ap­ple. How about an Ap­ple Cider Mi­mosa? Com­bine equal parts ap­ple cider with brut sparkling wine in a flute glass.

Of all the cider prod­ucts sam­pled, I en­joyed Rufa’s Buck­horn Cider (500 mL), $6. Made from ap­ples picked from farms through­out the re­gion, this easy of­fers loads of ap­ple char­ac­ter with full body, bal­anced acid to sweet­ness, and a long fin­ish.

At home I en­joyed this cider with a wedge of fresh or­ange and over ice. Ab­so­lutely de­li­cious!

Keep in mind that although this cider has sweet­ness, it does not oc­cur as cloy­ing on the palate. The sweet­ness is sim­ply present to give weight and bal­ance to the bev­er­age. Sweet­ness also height­ens the flavours, and in this case the ap­ple flavours.

It is this sweet­ness that al­lows this cider to com­ple­ment a range of sweet and spicy or sim­ply sweet bar­be­cue sauces. Whether you are mak­ing your bar­be­cue sauce by scratch or pur­chas­ing a favourite bot­tled­ver­sion, be sure to add fresh lime­juice to the sauce be­fore­hand. The acid­ity in the lime will les­son the in­ten­sity of the sweet­ness in the sauce. By do­ing so you al­low the cider to be sweeter than the sauce. This is im­por­tant when pair­ing cider to food. If the sauce is sweeter, the cider will taste of of­fen­sive, al­most metal­lic acid­ity.

Buck­horn cider com­ple­ments Lime and Ap­ple But­ter Bar­be­cue Sauce coated on bar­be­cued baby back pork ribs or on chicken. Other har­mo­niz­ing sauces in­clude Straw­berry Lime Chipo­tle; Mango Lime Cit­rus; Apri­cot Lime Har­banero; Peach Lime Maple; and oth­ers.

To bring the meal to­gether, serve a salad high­light­ing small cubes of fresh ap­ple to bridge with the bev­er­age. Ex­am­ples in­clude Ap­ple Wal­nut Salad with Bal­samic Vinai­grette; Salad of Baby Spinach,

Grilled Honey Roasted Ap­ple Slices, Toasted Wal­nuts and Fresh Chevre; Shaved Kohlrabi with Ap­ple and Hazel­nuts; Ap­ple Fen­nel Salad; and Cin­na­mon Roasted Sweet Pota­toes and Ap­ples.

Some­times sit­ting by the lake, feel­ing the sum­mer’s heat on your skin, lis­ten­ing to the rip­ple of quiet wa­ter, watch­ing Cana­dian loons play in the wa­ter, and tak­ing in a deep breath of Kawartha air calls for noth­ing more than a glass of cider over ice.

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