Rest your cast iron skillet and put away the truffle salt – pairing with cider does not have to include your grandparent’s wedding china or cuff-links. This no-frills, unpretentious cider pairing is for the lazy at heart and the junk food-inclined. Dress it up or dress it down, cider is arguably the most amiable food pairing beverage. From triple-cream cheese and confit duck leg to a greasy basket of tater tots and beef jerky, cider can not only play nice with junk food but it can also take on a whole other role when matched with unconventional bevvie pairings.
Popcorn: A famous pairing with bubbles, popcorn’s salty and butter-soaked dressing is desirable to the yeasty, bready components of a Champagne-style sipper. Likewise with the lighter, brighter ciders that are either mirrored after the beloved French sparkling wine region or use a similar yeast strain to bring out the delicate aromas and flavors. For fatty, salty popcorn, pair with E.Z. Orchard‘s Cidre or Eve’s Cidery Northern Spy, both made with varying traditional French methods (méthode ancenstral and méthode Champenoise, respectively). Take a crunchier route to popped corn, or partially popped corn with Halfpops, the shockingly low-calorie junk food with flavors like Aged White Cheddar that would take up nicely with Eden Ice Cider‘s Sparkling Dry cider.
BBQ Potato Chips: Move over beer, a slightly sparkling fruit-infused cider is a model pairing for sauce-slathered and sweetly spiced potato chips. The chip’s crunch matches the pop of the carbonation in the cider and the sweetness from the sauce mingles with the fruit-forward characteristics of the cider, cleaned up with its natural acidity. Match Big B’s Hard Cider‘s One Night Fruit Stand (with apricot and dried cherry) with the Hickory Barbeque kettle chips from fellow Colorado artisan Boulder Canyon or try the classic Tim’s Cascade Original lightly salted potato chips with North Idaho Cider‘s tart and tangy Cranberry cider.
Pepperoni Pizza: Move over beer—hoppy cider is now the solution for the great pepperoni pizza pairing conundrum. The bittering, floral qualities of hops contrast the sweet, fatty, spicy components of pepperoni while the apple aromas, flavors and acidity naturally fit with the zingy tomato sauce, cheese and bread of the pizza. One of the latest hopped ciders to the scene, try Bold Rock‘s India Pressed Apples hopped cider with your next slice of flatbread. Go deep-dish and take the single-hopped Mosiac Hopped cider from Potter’s Craft Cider with you to cut through the rich flavors and textures.
Chinese Takeout: Sweet and sour pork, General Tso’s chicken, Peking roasted duck—the list goes on of common Chinese-American takeout options and the cider you pair with it can help trim back your list. If it is heat that you seek, a cider with some sweetness goes a long way with a spicier dish, like Cidergeist‘s Semi Dry with Kung Pao chicken. If a tamer yet richer dish is what you order such as dumplings, pair it with a cider boasting ample acidity like Millstone Cellars‘ Farmgate, a blend of barrel-aged crabapples and more.
Corn Dogs: Whether you get it from a gas station or you fry it yourself, a corn dog has to top the list of guilty pleasures for junk food. Dense with crunchy cornmeal, sweet and fried, this meat-on-a-stick desires its opposite to contrast. Try a delicate and bright perry to oppose the heavier textures of the corn dog, like the Chojuro Blend of Asian pears from Nashi Orchards or Rootstock Ciderworks‘ dry perry made from all Bartlett pears.