Spice Up Your Fall
Try something new to tickle your palate
Summer is coming to an end. The nights are shorter. The air is crisper and has the forward edge of autumn.
These changes make most of us long for a drink that matches the new season. Many wine lovers start pulling out their go-to pinot noir. But there are many other options. Why not sip something that’s a little more old-school?
Sip Some Cider
Maybe this autumn, try something traditional like cider, a common beverage in Colonial America. Back in colonial and precolonial times, water wasn’t always safe to drink, so people often drank fruit juice instead. The natural next step was for the fruit juice operation to become a fermented drink. Cider was brought over to the States from England, where it’s still quite popular today. (For the uninitiated, cider is an alcoholic beverage made from apple juice, but with no hard rules about what type of apples could be used.)
Today, it’s more common to find hard cider options such as nationally distributed Angry Orchard from New York and Woodchuck Hard Cider from Vermont. Both brands can be found at beer distributors and select grocery stores. But there are also Pennsylvania-based cider houses that are making quite a splash.
For example, Threadbare Cider House and Meadery, based in Pittsburgh, makes traditional and modern cider. Their name is inspired by Johnny Chapman (a.k.a. Johnny Appleseed), who spent his life collecting apple seeds to being to Ohio and Indiana during the 1790s and walked from Pittsburgh to Boston in his threadbare clothing. Threadbare Farmhouse Cider, Dry Hop Cider and Bouquet de Rosé Cider bottles can be found for about $15 to $20.
And why drink hard cider today? Well, one reason is that it’s good for you. Apples are a superfood, plus hard cider has antioxidants, vitamin C and no gluten, according to Cider Craft Magazine. Try it this fall. You can say it’s for your health!
Find Out About Fruit Wines
Cider is only one part of a much wider category — fruit wines. These fermented alcoholic beverages made from a variety of base ingredients (other than grapes) take on flavors such as fruits, flowers and herbs. Cider is a specified version of fruit wine with a distinctive history and growing popularity. Other historic wines, such as dandelion and elderberry wine, would also fall into this category, but are not widely made.
Wines made from berries are relatively easy to produce, making them widely available. Many wineries and meaderies along the East Coast are known for producing fruit wines, especially in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. And yes, fruit wine is really wine, since it follows the same basic process as making fruit wine from grapes — allowing yeast to feed on the sugars in fruit and become alcohol.
Based in New Jersey, Tomasello Winery is one of the largest producers of fruit wine, producing two main styles — fruit wine moscato and pure fruit wine. It’s important to pay attention to the difference between fruit wine varieties because some wine companies advertise fruit-flavored wine without the product being a true fruit wine.
But Tomasello Winery makes sure you can see the difference. The fruit moscato blends are just that — a portion of fruit wine blended with moscato. This process makes the wine a bit lighter and sweeter and also keeps the price down. Pure fruit wines tend to be more expensive to grow and harvest, but the result is phenomenal when you experience a genuine expression of that single fruit in a wine.
Tomasello winery offers a wide selection, with blueberry fruit wine as their top seller and cranberry fruit wine a close runner-up (both $12). There are also different varieties of the fruit wine moscato, some available in a sampler pack of blueberry, watermelon, peach and cranberry moscato blends ($22).
Another company worth trying is St. James Winery, producing a line of fruit wine in Missouri and in business for over 200 years. Blackberry, cherry, peach, blueberry and strawberry are some of the flavors to savor ($10).
These fruit wines are making a comeback, and it’s no surprise why. Here’s hoping these harvest-friendly wines will appear on your table this fall to share with friends and family.
As always, drink responsibly and be sure to stop in at your favorite wine and spirits shop for any questions or suggestions.
Jessica Roberts has worked with Fine Wine & Good Spirits for six years, taking the position of Wine Specialist a year and a half ago. What began as a hobby soon blossomed into a satisfying career. Jessica works at the Premium Collection store in Phoenixville. Stop by for one of her tastings or just to ask a question. Learn more at FWGS.com.
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