What's the Difference Between Apple Cider and Apple Wine?
If someone offered you a hard apple cider and handed you a glass of apple wine—or vice-versa—sure, you could be a little miffed, but who has the energy for that? The world is a complicated and exhausting place and someone is offering you an alcoholic beverage made from delicious, sweet, tangy apples. Just take it, say thank you, and sip it with a smile on your face. But if you really feel like you must put on your pedantry pants here, there are a few differences between apple cider and apple wine.
Apple cider—hard apple cider, that is—is made by crushing apples and fermenting the juice. An aspiring apple cider maker without the equipment or wherewithal to do some hearty smashing could instead purchase apple juice or apple cider from a roadside stand (no, that part is not a technical requirement, but c'mon, man) and ferment that by various methods. Those basically entail pasteurizing the cider if that hasn't already been done, tossing some yeast into the mixture, sealing it, and monitoring how much gas it's letting off. Let it sit for a while to let the sediment settle (and BTW, there's a whole lot of sanitary stuff you have to do, but let's keep it simple), and then siphoning it off. Different cider makers may add sugar or honey at various points and fuss less or more over cloudiness and effervescence, but there you go. Chug-a-lug. That's probably going to end up around 3.5 to 4.5 percent alcohol, which is nice for a little beer-ish buzz.
Apple wine isn't radically different. It's essentially the same process, but requires more sugar. That extra sweetener ferments over a longer period of time and brings the alcohol content to around 12 to 14 percent, which is more likely to knock you back on your Honeycrisp if you drink a quantity of it. This, too, may be carbonated if the cider maker cares to get happy with their apples, but that's the fundamental difference.
It seems worth mentioning that the difference between non-alcoholic apple cider and apple juice is that apple juice has had all the solid particles filtered out and has generally been pasteurized to stay fresh in a bottle for longer. Apple cider has pulp and sediment in it, and may be raw or pasteurized.
No word on if an apple wine or hard apple cider will keep anything but sobriety away, but if so, you'll be the first to know.