I too am annoyed by wine snobbishness, the “notes of cherry”, the “fruit-forward”, but there is something accurate about wine lingo and the thoughtful word choices shouldn't be dismissed. If we in the cider industry could wade through lesser rhetoric we’d see that our own carelessness and lack of organization has lead to the devaluing of our own goals, our product, and our life style.
Take for instance, the word “hard”, commonly and legally used in conjunction with “cider” to denote fermentation and subsequent alcohol content. Maybe it’s just me, but the word “hard” conjures unsavory likening to “hard times”, “hard luck”, “hard lemonade”, and unpleasant human characteristics, “i.e. hard ass.” (Note to business strategists: “Hard Boiled Cider” isn’t taken yet! A whole marketing campaign awaits the exploitation of our gutter image… picture: film-noir stills or a black-and-white cartoon, men in rimmed hats, street lamps, sidewalks and high-heeled shoes. Come on.)
Anyway, what I’m saying is the word “cider” is an ancient word spanning many cultures. It has served to tie people of all walks to farms, to nature, and to the lightness of being. Our failure to promote that image is a failure in unity because what we are up against is a formidable challenger.
Cider was intentionally sabotaged in the mid 20th century by a post-Prohibition government intent on total oversight of alcohol sales by way of favoring bigger and more visible producers. Yes, Democratic-leaning as I am, this is a case where “big central government”, corrupted or not, succeeded in squashing the viability of millions of small farms and homestead production. And the result was bad for consumers too. Lack of compitition meant no need for quality. So that’s what we 21st century craft (or artisanal) cider makers inherited. But just as beer was a wretch until the micro-brew revolution, that upheaval has shown the triumph of taste. And it starts with the elimination of the word “hard” .
Cider is as bucolic as the orchard it comes from. Phonetically it even kicks wine’s ass, “SY-der.” So get out there and explain to people what cider means. The customer is not always right.