Yes Virginia, Cider IS Great For Holiday Food Pairings!
I have been a big fan of the NC Wine Guys and their podcast "Cork Talk" since it's inception in December 2018. Since that inaugural episode North Carolina's pre eminent authorities on wine in our beloved state have allowed us a rare glimpse into vineyards, wineries and their owners as well as winemakers through their podcast
You can only imagine my excitement when I was asked to appear on a recent episode of Cork Talk along with several fellow wine bloggers and influencers to discuss wine pairings for holiday foods.
Along with Dave Nershi from Vino Sphere, Jessica from the Winemouths, Pam Riley from Food And Wine Chronicles and of course Joe Brock and Matt Kemberling aka the NC Wine Guys we had a casual but very informative discussion about pairing every thing from red to white to even sparkling wines with foods for the holidays. In addition, each of the panel participants highlighted various NC vineyards and wineries that were great sources to procure what we recommended.
When it comes to holiday food and wine pairings my "go to" has always been champagne or sparkling wines. Whether cava or prosecco these wines are not only festive and celebratory but extremely versatile and pair with a variety of dishes. My good friend Pam did an outstanding job covering this option and when I was told she had selected this beverage I chose cider - and I am glad that I did.
At Botanist & Barrel, located in Cedar Grove, NC they take what others tend to discard and turn it into delicious cider. Their use of native yeasts and no sulfites produces cider with outstanding flavor and character. From the many ciders they offer I recommend two for your holiday table. Arkansas Black is a single varietal cider made from Arkansas Black apples aged in chardonnay bottles with the result being a rich elegant cider worthy of your holiday table. You should also consider Pardon My French, a subtle elegant cider with notes of mango, honeyed pear and almond rounded out by touch of oak.
At James Creek Cider House, located in Cameron, NC i encountered multiple ciders suitable for holiday food pairings. Their Russets & Twiggs and Mighty Hunter ciders are both carbonated and semi dry while their Shooting Star and Harvest Moon are carbonated with Shooting Star being slightly sweet and Harvest Moon being dry. For me, my favorites were Crossbow made from muscadine grapes and Beehive Ginger which is carbonated and made from honey and ginger.
My final cider destination was Bull City Cider located in downtown Durham. At this very popular cider destination you can't go wrong with their CranPappy (cranberry). Jack & Oak (pumpkin spice) and Bourbonic Tonic cider which is dry, barrel aged and bursting with notes of caramel and vanilla. I am also a big fan of Off Main, a refreshing and crisp easy drinking cider,
When considering your holiday food and wine pairings remember that full bodied ciders pair well with rich dishes such as soups, stews, mild curries and pies with winter spices ;ole sage, cinnamon and cardamom. Don't forget pairing full bodied ciders with meats, chicken, pork. ham, bacon and turkey.
Anything that you would normally pair with a chardonnay wine can usually be paired with a fruity cider. Don't forget pairing cider with creamy pasta dishes as well as salty savory cheeses like gouda, manchego, sharp cheddars, brie and bleu cheese.
Of course you can't have the holidays without desserts and sweets and cider pairs very well with apple pie, fruit cobblers, crepes. gingerbread, cinnamon sugar doughnuts and bread pudding.
Check out the holiday episode of Cork Talk here (http://ncwineguys.com/index.php/cork-talk-holiday-episode/) and do your taste buds and palate a favor and consider pairing local cider with some of the dishes on your holiday table. I promise you the staff at Botanist & Barrel, James Creek Cider House and Bull City Cider will be more than willing to assist you and make your holiday food and wine pairing extra special.