You got to know this: "wine coolers" are not wine, ketchup is not tomato sauce, and "hard cider" is not cider. Sorry to burst your bubble but the token cider most restaurants and wine bars offer truly is analogous to ketchup.
Does that sound extreme? Well, it is not. In fact, the more one investigates ketchup and common American hard cider the more the comparison becomes eerily accurate. Ultimately, you would conclude that true cider (or just cider) and American "hard cider" are so vastly different that they wouldn't even belong in the same category, and the mere proximity to one another on a menu is an insult. To confuse the two, or blur the lines, is a failure to represent simplicity, nature, and the truth to the customer.
Let me ask you: Is it possible for a vineyard and wine producer outside of Lyon to produce an inexpensive drink that appeals to American tastes, and enough to stock every restaurant, grocery store and 7eleven in North America? Of course not. The farms are too small for those quantities and true wine is not stretched with water and fabricated in a factory. Sure, "wine coolers" are in every store in America, but wine coolers are not wine; and hard cider is not cider. It's that simple.
If a restaurant wants to offer the full range of ciders made in America, both the industrial hard cider and the true farm cider, then they should put true ciders under the wine category and the hard ciders under the beer category. Beer is a recipe, the variations occur in the processing, whereas wine is a crop and the variations are achieved in the field. That's how hard cider and true cider are different as well.
I am only partially supportive of the rise of hard cider in America because I am advocate for farmers, and there are a lot of unused dessert apples out there. But a true cider-maker should not concern themselves with that market. The hard cider market may rise or fall, but cider is forever. From the farm, to the processing, to the market and in it's culinary place in human culture, true cider distinguishes itself as a completely different product to hard cider.
So let me say one more time: that sweet "appely" taste in those
beer-can 'hard ciders' is no more representational of fermented apples than ketchup is representational of tomato sauce. Keep thinking about ketchup next time you consider hard cider. And thank my friend Amy for the great metaphor!...