Welcome the New Year with American Sparkling Cider

Pop open a different kind of bubbly this year. (No, not Martinelli's.)

Photo courtesy of Eden Specialty Ciders.

As you’re thinking about all-things-bubbly leading up to New Year’s Eve, consider adding sparkling cider to your celebration. No, not the sweet Martinelli’s sparkling cider your parents let you drink as a kid. I mean the alcoholic kind of cider (sometimes called “hard cider”) that’s being revived by cidermakers across the country.

I’ve spent much of my fall delving deep into the world of American cider, which varies in styles and flavor—from dry to sweet, from still to sparkling. Most producers making a sparkling cider are doing so cider-specific apple varieties, and use the traditional method—with a second fermentation in the bottle, just like Champagne or cava is made. Unlike Martinelli’s, these sparking ciders are sophisticated and nuanced. Many are dry, making them an excellent match with food.

These kinds of complex ciders are being made in places like the Finger Lakes, Hudson Valley and Vermont, as well as near wine-producing regions along the West coast. Good producers to look for include Kite & String, based in the Finger Lakes. Kite & String offer a range of sparkling ciders made from apples with names you don’t encounter at the grocery store, like Geneva Russet and Northern Spy. I’ve spotted their Pioneer Pippin sparkling cider at Cambridge Wines in Morristown before, so stock up if you find a few bottles.

I’m a fan of Vermont’s Eden Specialty Ciders, especially the bone-dry Brut Nature sparkling cider made from heirloom and bittersweet apples that would make an excellent addition to any brunch. You’ll also find great sparkling ciders from South Hill Cider and Eve’s Cidery, both from the Finger Lakes. As for where to find these being poured in New Jersey, look no further than Würstbar in Jersey City, which carries several dozen ciders by the can and bottle, with a staff that is equally excited about cider.

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