Sunday, April 4, 2010

"CIDER" the word

"Cider" is to apple juice, what "Wine" is to grape juice. And even in America prior to WWII, the word "cider" was held to exclusively describe the fermented drink produced from the juice of apples. This fresh juice however has recently become known as "cider" here in America, rather then the fermented drink, because farmers sought a way to market their superior juice over the artificially sweetened "apple juice" that one sees in quick-marts and gas stations. My sympathies go out to them, but even those farmers know "cider" is in fact a fermented drink. There is no questioning that- just do some historical and international research on cider and you'll be embarrassed for our country's use of the word. You'll also be embarrassed that you have little knowledge and experience with one of the worlds best fermented drinks. Only wine rivals cider's complexity, diversity and subtlety.
Why not concede to the confusion and just call it "hard cider?" I do not like the term, "hard cider," because to me it is suggestive of "hard drinking." That would also suggest the general purpose of quantity- not quality. Hard cider, in fact, does carry negative associations in modern day America. It is often associated with young or sloppy home-brewers who lack the funds, knowledge, patience, and hygiene to perfect their craft. Their product is likely to carry sickness-causing bacteria and it's often"spiked" for increased alcohol. If getting drunk for cheap were the mission, "hard" cider has fit that niche.
But there is a cure. With the resurgence of micro-brewing in the beer industry, modern day drinking Americans have divided into two camps: their approach can generally be summed as 'quantity vs. quality'. (Interesting that the wine industry never saw the dark ages between prohibition and the 21st century which degraded the beer industry and nearly obliterated all cider production in America.) Buyers of good beer know that taste matters more then penny-pinching. My hope is that cider can also be resuscitated in this improved market. Is it elitist, is it classist -to let the two camps divide among seemingly economic means? Not at all. Taste, despite what the elitists tell you, is not bought. And anyone who knows economics, especially the economy of "local", will also know that the ramifications of buying for quality effects personal finance in a cyclical manner. In other words, buying for quality effects the quality of the broader local market to which you support. The British, who coincidentally are also the worlds premier cider drinkers, have a phrase: Penny wise, pound foolish.