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Fall in Love with French Cider: A Guide to Cider & Food Pairings

by Joan Kitterman October 22, 2020

Fall in Love with French Cider: A Guide to Cider & Food Pairings

Pairing French ciders with food is fun, easy and delicious!

Have you wondered how to approach French cider and food pairings? As the chief taster at French Cider, let me help take the mystery out of finding just the right food to go with your cider. Like fine wine, French ciders heighten and enhance the flavors of your food. However, French cider rarely tries to steal the show and it never overpowers your dish. French ciders complement your meal with style and even a little panache.

Here are some ideas for how to pair your food with any of the delectable ciders that we carry.

Normandy Ciders

Pairing: Seafood, Meat, Vegetables, Creamy Cheeses

Normandy ciders are well suited to hearty French cooking – that is, French country or farm-style food like stews, meats with sauces, and charcuterie. Since meat is a staple of the Norman diet, any dish containing beef, poultry, lamb, pork, or duck is sure to be a crowd pleaser when paired with cider. With over 300 miles of coastline on the English Channel, it goes without saying that Normandy ciders are simply delectable paired alongside the wealth of seafood offered. Try fresh or grilled oysters, mussels, lobster, and grilled fish with Norman ciders to get a true glimpse of the maritime influence in this region. Equally well-suited to non-animal protein meals, Normandy ciders pair beautifully with vegetarian or vegan diets such as vegetable gratins, root vegetables, soups, or a rich, tomato-centered pasta. And as Normandy is home to more than 750,000 dairy cows producing rich Normandy cream, you can be sure that Normandy cider will always pair well with anything containing butter, cheese, or crème fraiche. Pour alongside creamy cheeses like Camembert or Pont Leveque or try it with creamy blue cheese or goat cheese.

Pairing tip: If something grows, is raised, or is found in the region, it will go well with the cider!

Brittany Ciders

Pairing: Seafood, Meat, Vegetables, Crêpes and Galettes

I recommend that you pair Brittany ciders the same way you pair Normandy ciders– with all the hearty meats and seafoods that make up Brittany’s foodscape. You can pair Brittany ciders with fresh oysters, lobsters (langoustines), fish stews, and, of course, the classic meal of mussels and French fries.  The next time you have roasted, salted lamb or roast chicken, try pairing Brittany cider with it. And naturally, Brittany cider is best served with Brittany’s signature galettes - savory buckwheat crêpes filled with meat, cheese and topped with an egg.

We offer a superb Brittany chestnut apple cider, Kystin Cuvee XVII, that was created specifically to accompany Thanksgiving dinner. With the rich, robust flavors of apples co-fermented with the hearty, fall flavors of chestnuts, this cider begs to be served with a feast of turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberries and pumpkin or apple pie. Mmmmm, so delicious I can hardly wait.

People often ask how does Brittany Cider differ from a Normandy cider - and which is better?

The biggest difference that I’ve observed is the types of cider apples used to make Normandy and Brittany ciders. While the apple varieties used are roughly the same - both regions use varieties known as amère (bitter), doux (sweet), doux-amère (bitter-sweet), and acidulé (tart) cider apples - some Bretons claim that they regularly use cider apples from all four categories of apples, whereas the Normans tend to favor amère, doux-amère, et acidulé without using doux (sweet) as much as the Bretons do. I am not sure if this is completely true, but based on the Breton ciders I have tasted, Brittany ciders seem subtler and slightly sweeter. Perhaps a little less muscular than the cider of their Norman neighbors. I would describe them as elegant, but without added layers of complexity.

Of course, the Normans think their cider is, hands down, the best while the Bretons think theirs is far superior.  So, taste a few of each and decide for yourself!  Everyone will find something that speaks to them from one or both regions.

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Joan Kitterman
Joan Kitterman

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