Hard cider or apple wine?

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Robert R

Feb 2, 2021
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I have some bottles left of a hard apple cider i made 5 or 6 years ago. Just opened a bottle, it has a kick to it, around 9% abv iirc. Crystal clear, some sediment, a few bubbles although I didn't prime for carbonation. Fermented bone dry from 5 gallons of fall grocery store sweet cider, with two 12-oz bags of chopped cranberries and a few ounces of chopped fresh ginger root. Still drinkable, but I think it's past it's prime. So what makes a hard cider vs apple wine?


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Funny thing, I'm sipping on the last of the bottle opened a few hours ago, and the disagreeable notes I tasted earlier have mellowed out, and now it tastes pretty darned good.
Here's another way of thinking about the difference between a cider and a wine: cider uses only the sugars that are available in the apples. An apple wine suggests that you are adding to those sugars to up the potential ABV. If you use the sugars that the apples provide you are not likely to get a drink that is much above 7% ABV and probably the cider will be more like 5-6 % ABV. If you chaptalize apple juice to increase the potential ABV then that is no longer a true cider but a country wine.
Yessir, that's the way I interpret the difference. My batches from home-grown apples are pretty much landing around 6.5 or there abouts.

Mostly Mcintosh apples. One interesting point is that I live in Northwest Arkansas and due to varmit theft I have to pick my apples when the are just starting to turn red. If they are half red - the other half is gone due to birds or squirrels. That's if the squirrel hasn't carried it away. Despite that I still hit SG numbers around 1.060 - 1.055 with no additional sugar. So ripeness doesn't appear to increase the sugar content.

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