appleNot wine this week but cider as October is when cider apples are at their ripest and are hand-picked, pressed and fermented into a fruity beverage that is a real alternative to wine.

It's the blend of natural bitter tasting tannins, sugars and the necessary balancing malic acid - the chemical ingredient that makes all apples taste fruity – which turn cider varieties like Redstreak and Crimson King into food-friendly drinks.

apples in a treeThe best ciders are made from a mix of Bittersharp, Sweet and Bittersweet varieties. Blend varieties with a bitter skin, low acid levels and a sweet bite and the result is a cider ranging in style from scrumpy to delicate appley aperitifs that taste similar to wine.

Light tasting entry-level ‘women-friendly’ ciders are replacing traditional fizzy ciders on the supermarket shelves. Using a high percentage of the low malic acid Sweet cider varieties makes a drink that tastes lightly of apples and lemons. The result is less like cider and more like a wine made with the white grape Pinot Grigio.

If you want a wine-like cider then Frome Valley Henney’s Dry (£2 Ocado). Alternatively you could just get a cider-like wine - Sainsbury's German wine Niersteiner Gutes Domtal's (£4.60) tastes of lemon, elderflowers and apple.

PG Cider Reviews

Expect to pay up to £4 for a bottle of premium bottled cider, but most are more reasonably priced in the £1.50 to £2.30 price bracket.

cider bottleAspall Organic Suffolk Cyder
£2 Tesco
Chewy and earthy with some gum-grabbing tannins but balanced.

Frome Valley Henney’s Dry
£2 Ocado, £2.09 Waitrose
Crisp and light.

Westons Premium Wyld Wood Organic Cider
£2 Waitrose
This Herefordshire blend of Bittersweet and Bittersharp varieties has been fermented and matured in oak vats. And you can taste it too. Creamy, oaky over-tones compliment the light apple flavours.

Aspall Draught Suffolk Cyder
£2 Ocado, Tesco
Fruity and dry.

Chaplin and Cork’s Somerset Reserve Cider
£2.29 Ocado
Rich and appley.

This article also appeared as Paula's Wines of the Week on MatureTimes.co.uk