The cider market in the United States has grown over 500 percent since 2011. While that is something to crow about, cider’s roots go much deeper and farther than just North American soils. Get to know cider on a global scale, using this introductory guide to six major international cider cultures. First up was Great Britain, followed by Ireland, France, Spain and, in March, we left off on Australia. Now we head to Deutschland to drink some apfelwein.
Called variously apfelwein, most, ebbelwoi or viez depending on where you are, the story of cider in Germany reaches back into the Dark Ages, to the time of the legendary Charlemagne, whose empire covered much of what is now western Europe. Germany’s modern tradition took off in the 19th century, though, bolstered by the devastating blight of phylloxera which wreaked havoc in vineyards across the continent. Cidermaker-farmers would bring in wagons full of fresh cider to one of the many new cider taverns springing up in the district of Sachsenhausen, and the arrival of a new shipment would be signaled by hanging a wreath of evergreen branches outside the tavern’s door. The descendants of these wreaths can still be seen hanging outside Sachsenhausen’s taverns today.
The Current Scene
Still, dry and tart, German cider has grown well beyond its rural farm roots, with many producers making ciders in a distinctly wine-like style (think Sauvignon Blanc) in blends or as single varietals. More recently a new batch of companies have sprung up that produce modern sparkling, flavor-enhanced ciders inspired by the millennial cider scene and attracting a whole new generation of cider drinkers. Frankfurt is home to Cider World, probably the most diverse cider-tasting event anywhere in the world (in 2018 there were 223 exhibitors from 19 countries), now in its 10th year. Cider World is the culminating event of Frankfurt Cider Week where cider is celebrated at venues throughout the city with paired dinners, special cocktails and parties in the taverns of old Sachsenhausen.
4 Regional Apples to Know:
Kaiser Wilhelm, Rheinischer Bohnapfel, Boskoop, Goldpärmane
Classic Ciders to Sip
Possmann Traditional Apfelwein: A classic example of the traditional style: clear and dry with a mild old apple-fruitiness and clean acidity.
Weidmann & Groh Cydonia: Mildly astringent, elegant, sparkling and semi-dry, with a round honey flavor from the addition of 30 percent quince and a tartness reminiscent of plum skins on the finish.
Bembel-with-Care Apfelwein Kirsch: Smooth, semi-dry and easy-drinking, with a bright summer cherry tartness and a lively sparkle.