Whether you identify as “cider connoisseur” or “cider-not-quite-sure,” Thanksgiving has always been synonymous with a glistening glass of refreshing cider alongside that long awaited feast. This year, step your cider situation up a notch with knowledgeable pairings in your back pocket. We’ve asked the experts to weigh in on their favorite pairings per course.
Appetizer || Cheese Platter || Paired by Jason Scherer, Chef de Cuisine, RockCreek, Seattle
The best way to prep your palate for comfort-food-coma mode? Scherer, who also is the resident chef for this publication’s food pairing photo shoots, recommends an intense, pungent blue cheese paired with Alpenfire Pirate’s Plank dry cider to keep your senses alert and ready for the big day. Cheese options include Stilton, Spanish Valdeon, Gorgonzola, Cambozola or your favorite stinky blue cheese. “The slightly smoky cider is great with the funky blue,” Scherer says. “Sherry and citrus notes in the cider also bring out undiscovered flavors in the floral cheese.” Toss some dried apricots or smoked almonds onto your platter for a final touch.
Side || Cranberry Dish || Paired by Eric West, Founder, Cider Guide
Cranberries are a necessity at any Thanksgiving celebration. If you’re feeling traditional, whip up a classic batch of cranberry sauce via age-old family recipe. For something different, cranberry applesauce pleases the palate similarly, but stands well on its own. Either way, West recommends West County Redfield, appropriately originating from Massachusetts. Crafted from a red-fleshed apple variety, the cider is red-hued to match the color and tartness of your choice cranberry cuisine.
Main Course || Turkey || Paired by Ryan Burk, Head Cidermaker, Angry Orchard, Walden, NY; and Kevin Gillespie, Owner, Gunshow, Atlanta
For the succulent main feast, you can’t go wrong with a complementary dry cider. Burk recommends Angry Orchard Stone Dry cider, as “the tannic character contrasts the juicy, tenderness of the turkey, while the bright apple aroma complements the baked, savory characteristics of the meat.”
If you’re feeling extra adventurous, pair your turkey with cider before it even leaves the kitchen. Present Gillespie’s Angry Orchard Cider Brined Thanksgiving Turkey feeling like a pro. The unique combination of cider, brown sugar, allspice, ginger, thyme and other fine ingredients will be the perfect addition to your already-delicious main course.
Dessert || Pumpkin Pie || Paired by Ellen Cavalli, Co-owner, Tilted Shed Ciderworks, Windsor, CA
Keep it classic with a dessert pairing that leaves you satisfied yet craving more fruity goodness. Cavalli recommends your favorite pumpkin pie recipe paired with “rich and decadent” Tilted Shed 2014 Barred Rock whiskey barrel-aged cider. Notes of crème brulee and caramel apple contribute to a sweet finish. For a cider that holds its own as dessert sans pie, Cavelli goes for a pommeau or ice cider.