Thanksgiving wine pairings can be a lot to deal with. Sure, there are the standard pairings, but what if you’re not ready to drop money on varietals you’ve never heard of for family you only see when you have to? There’s always Thanksgiving cocktails, and beer works, too, but there’s another option: cider.
“What makes cider so excellent for Thanksgiving is that you’re talking about something that can bring the acidity and aromatics of a white wine to the table, but also bring the tannins we associate with a red wine,” Jennifer Smith, the executive director of the New York Cider Association, tells VinePair.
A good cider hits all of the points a fine food wine does, and it has much lower alcohol content. Lower alcohol means less drunk arguments after drinking for eight hours straight. What on earth would you argue about this Thanksgiving? Who knows. Cider doesn’t pick sides, though, and is perfect for both sides of the table.
“There are no rules, and I think that’s one thing that’s important to remember with Thanksgiving,” Smith says. “It’s about the company.” Because it’s less alcoholic than grape wines, “it can be enjoyed with a little more abandon.”
Agreed. Here are some of the best ciders to lose your Thanksgiving self in. More top pairings can be found on New York Cider Association’s Instagram, @ciderweekny.
Angry Orchard Walden Hollow
Angry Orchard’s annual vintage cider is something to seek out. It’s off dry and made exclusively from New York apples. It’s fermented with wild yeast but doesn’t have an off-putting farmhouse aroma or flavor. This is a cider that goes with the entire meal.
Eve’s Cidery Autumn’s Gold
We all need a little sparkle in our lives. Enter Autumn’s Gold, a sparkling cider that is a touch sweet and a touch bitter and has plenty of tannin. Pop it in the morning as an aperitif, drink it with starters and keep enough bottles on hand to not let the fizz fall flat.
Wölffer Estate No. 139 Rosé Cider
Thanksgiving, one of the most tradition-laden days in the United States, is the perfect time to buck tradition. That’s where rosé cider comes in. You already know that rosé and gose go perfectly well together, and this cider that’s been graced with a bit of red grape skin extract is no different.
Bad Seed Bourbon Barrel Reserve
This is one full cider. It’s crisp but also has a healthy dose of vanilla and nuttiness from two to three months in a Kentucky bourbon barrel. It’s perfect with sweet potatoes or butternut squash.
Foggy Ridge Serious Cider
Serious Cider is dry and tannic. It’s made from classic cider apples that you don’t want to eat unless it’s in liquid form. Seriously, the apples are called “spitters” because you want to spit it out when you take a bite. Turn it into alcohol, though, and that’s where the magic happens.
Bushwhacker Urban Cidery’s Forgotten Trail
Forgotten Trail is a semi-dry cider made from apples grown in eastern Oregon. It’s dry enough to pair with food, but it’s also sweet enough for fans of more mainstream ciders.
Aaron Burr Homestead
The Homestead ciders aren’t a single cider, but a selection of ciders. Find any one of them and put it on the Thanksgiving table immediately. They are a bit on the more adventurous side if you haven’t had a chance to explore the world of alcoholic apple juice, but you need to try any of these unfiltered, no-additive ciders.