Getty Images: Jose A. Bernat Bacete / Total Wine & More

Is rosé cider really worth its hype? To find out, we tasted our way through as many as we could get our hands on. 

Elizabeth Laseter
September 14, 2018

Rosé cider is one of the latest trends in boozy beverages—but is it just another iteration of our #millenialpink obsession? Here at MyRecipes, we’ve tasted everything from canned rosé wine to margarita mix, so it only seemed natural to tackle rosé cider.

At first glance, rosé cider is downright perplexing. Traditionally, cider is made by fermenting fresh-pressed apple juice. The result is a crisp, effervescent drink that’s tart, slightly sweet, and a bit funky all at once. But how do you go from cider to rosé cider?

After doing a little research, I found that the method varies from producer to producer. While some rosé ciders get their pink hue from red flesh apples, others use red wine grape skins and even hibiscus flowers. And in many cases, these ingredients supply more than just color to the cider—they also impart fruity and floral flavors. (In my opinion, that's pretty cool!)

Intrigued by this drink's surprising complexity, I gathered up as many rosé ciders as I could find for our taste test. While the majority of the ciders represented big apple-producing regions like New York, Vermont, and Michigan—others hailed from areas that were more obscure.

Needless to say, after tasting our way through all of them, #roséallday took on a whole new meaning for us. So, how did they stack up, exactly? In all honesty, better than we expected. Some ciders reminded us of dry sparkling rose wine, while others were sweet and floral. Below, we’ve ranked each rosé cider into its own category—so you can choose the perfect one to match your palate. 

Best All-Around: Shacksbury Dry Rosé Cider

Shacksbury Cider

ABV: 6.0%
Average price: $15 for 4 (12-oz) cans
Available at Shacksbury.com

This is simply a very well-executed cider, and it shows. You won’t find anything artificial here—Shacksbury uses fresh-pressed apples from Vermont which are then fermented and aged on local grape skins. The result is a dry, refreshingly-tart cider that pours a stunning scarlet color and packs a juicy burst of red wine flavor. The majority of tasters enjoyed this cider, but one wondered, “Is this hipster rosé?” Break this cider out for a lazy Sunday brunch with friends, or sip it before dinner with a cheese plate.

Honorable Mention: Strongbow Rosé Apple Hard Cider

Strongbow

$8.99 for six (12-oz) bottles
ABV: 5%
Available at Total Wine & More

As the only non-American rosé cider of the bunch (Strongbow is produced by Heineken), I was admittedly skeptical about this one. To my surprise, everyone thoroughly enjoyed this cider. It pours a vibrant coral pink color, and it has just the right amount of crisp and funk to it. One taster described it as “pleasantly apple-y,” while another compared it to a “flavored sparkling water.” For the lower price per six pack, this well-priced rosé cider will appeal to a variety of palates, and its low ABV won’t knock you off your feet, either.

Best for Wine Lovers: Virtue Rosé Cider  

Virtue Cider

$9.99 for six (12-oz) cans
ABV: 6.7%
Available at Total Wine & More

If I didn’t see the can, then I might have thought I was drinking a glass of sparkling rosé wine. Compared to the other ciders we tried, Michigan-based Virtue Cider’s rosé was in a league of its own. The flavor is smooth and dry—and you’d never guess that the ABV is as high as it is. It pours a blush pink color and smells more like grapefruit and flowers than it does apples. In fact, one of my colleagues commented “This is kind of like drinking flowers—it would be delicious with a splash of gin*!”

*Update: I later tried this—and yes, it was pretty nice.

Most Inoffensive: Bold Rock Hard Rosé Cider

Bold Rock

ABV: 6%
Average price: $8.99 for six (12-oz) bottles
Available at Total Wine & More

Compared to other rosé ciders that we tasted, Bold Rock's rendition was distinctly berry-forward and more sweet than it was tart. One of my colleagues put it perfectly—“Despite the name, this isn’t very bold at all. It’s actually pretty inoffensive,” he said. You won’t find big apple flavors here, but you will find an easy-drinking, straightforward rosé cider that would be a fine pick for a fall day.

Best for Tailgates: Angry Orchard Rosé Hard Cider

Angry Orchard Cider

ABV: 5.5%
Average price: $9.99 for six (12-oz) bottles
Available at Total Wine & More

Angry Orchard's rosé cider is more floral and sweet than apple-y, so if that’s what you’re looking for, then you’ll probably enjoy it. But how did it stack up flavor-wise? Most of us found this cotton candy-hued cider too sweet, and compared it to everything from Jolly Ranchers to pink Starburst. One taster in particular loved this cider, but recognized that it wasn’t overly complex—”I LOVE this, but I’m kind of basic.” The low ABV makes this cider a classy pick for day drinking events like tailgates, derby parties, and golf tournaments.

Best Packaging: Wolffer Estate No. 1 Dry Rosé Cider

Wolffer Estate Vineyard

ABV: 6.9%
$16.99 for four (12-oz) bottles / $12 for four (10-oz) cans
Available at wolffer.com

Wolffer Estate in New York's posh Hamptons is known for its wines, but the vineyard also produces top-notch ciders. Their rosé cider is refined and elegant, and it feels more like a sparkling rosé than it does a cider. Being a big fan of this cider already, I was disappointed to find that the batch we tried was downright skunky. As one taster put it, “Pretty bottle—but this tastes like it was made with bad water.” I won’t hold this one against Wolffer.

Most Unique: Citizen Cider bRosé Cider

Citizen Cider

ABV: 6.1%
Average price: $12 per (750-ml) bottle
Available at Total Wine & More

Don’t knock the name—Citizen Cider’s bRosé hit the shelves long before #brosé even became a thing. The name has more to do with the flavor (think blueberry rosé), a balanced blend of tart apples and sweet blueberries. The large format bottle makes this cider feel special too, and it’s even fancier served up in a wine glass. One taster called it “nice and tangy,” while another commented, “This is...interesting?” While the extra burst of blueberry flavor caught our taste buds off guard, we didn’t mind it one bit.

Best Value: Trader Joe’s Henry Hotspur’s Hard Pressed for Cider Rosé

Trader Joe's

ABV: 5.8%
Avereage price: $8.99 for six (12-oz) bottles
Available at Trader Joe's

My anticipation for tasting TJ’s take on rosé cider was sky-high. It was on backorder at my local store, and I had to wait several weeks to even get my hands on it. With this cider in such high demand, it had to be good. So how did it fare? Compared to other ciders we tasted, this one was spicy, a touch peppery, and pleasantly tart. While one taster did call it “Straight-up blah,” others really enjoyed its surprising complexity. Colored with hibiscus flowers, rose buds, and petals, this cider pours an attractive pale pink color. Yes, the name is a bit odd (who is Henry Hotspur?), but this cider offers superior value for the price and flavor.

Easiest Drinking: Crispin Rosé Hard Cider

Total Wine & More

ABV: 5%
Average price: $10 for six (12-oz) bottles (coming soon in slim cans)
Available at Total Wine & More

While Crispin's rosé wasn’t the most interesting cider we tried, it was one of the most drinkable. Take a sip and you get apple flavors right away, but you also get a touch of pear and strawberry. We also appreciated this cider's perfect level of carbonation. While many of ciders we tried packed surprisingly high ABVs, Crispin plays it safe at 5%—so you can knock back a few (or more) and not be completely sloshed. 

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