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