Drinks column: Cider's stunning transformation
Not just a drink to quench your thirst on hot days - just as well as the past few summers in the UK have been less than perfect - cider has been enjoying a resurgence.
It has also shaken off its bad reputation. Previously favoured by park bench drinkers in two litre bottles and the Grundys in Radio 4’s The Archers, the trend for cider-over-ice and flavoured ciders has given this sector a massive boost.
Yet most of us would never imagine that cider is not made from 100 per cent pure apple juice. The sad fact is that a large percentage of UK cider has many other ingredients.
The UK legal definition of cider is ‘an alcoholic drink made from apple juice’ but legally it only needs to contain 35 per cent.
The remaining 65 per cent is usually water and additives such as sugar or sweeteners, and even a little cocktail of chemicals and flavourings.
The list is long and includes: colourings, apple wine, cider vinegar, out of condition cider, aspartame, acetic acid, lactic acid, nitrogen, sorbic acid, sugar syrup, salt and tartaric acid. These are just a few.
This doesn’t mean that the discerning cider-phile should choose something different to quench their thirst as, while the laws on cider making in UK leave much to be desired, in France they are simple, clear and strict. Cider must be made from 100 per cent apple juice with NO additives. It is as simple as that.
There is a very well-known cider maker in the UK who actually buys the waste product from Loïc Raison – the number one cider maker in France - to make their own. Loïc Raison rigorously select all the raw ingredients used in their cidre production from orchards in Brittany, and only pick the apples when they are perfectly ripe.
Like wine or craft beer, good cider should be complex, quenching and balanced. Now the cider drinker is looking for a more authentic product. They want cider with a higher juice content, or 100 per cent like Loïc Raison.
So next time you fancy a crisp, refreshing cider choose something that you know is authentic, made entirely from apples with nothing else added but not at the expense of taste:Loïc Raison Brittany cidre. They are the best-selling cidres in France because they are natural with no added water, colourings, sugars, or additives.
You can find Loïc Raison Brut (dry), Doux (sweet) and Framboise (Raspberry) in Sheffield at our shop Le Bon Vin, 340 Brightside, S9 2SP, and at the following restaurants: Hu Wei, Mama’s and Leonies, Paulo’s, Efes Turkish Bar, Thali Cafe Saigon 68, Cafe Ceres and many more.