"One sip locks in so much apple flavor. It's as if you were drinking the juice from ten apples in one gulp—multiplied by alcohol."

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Apples need to reach popsicle temperatures before they're fermented for ice cider. [Flickr: rabasz]

Ice cider, or cidre de glace as its known in its birth place of Quebec, is kind of a cross between ice wine and hard cider. Like ice wine, the fruit (apples, not grapes, in this case) are left on the vine during chilly winters until they shrivel up. This produces the sweetest nectar possible. The super-concentrated juices are then pressed and fermented to add a little zing. The alcohol content usually ranges between 7% and 13% per volume.

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Cryomalus ice cider. [Photograph: Erin Zimmer]

The ice cider industry (industry might sound like a stretch, but it's actually expanding pretty fast) is centered in Canada, which involves about 50 producers. Cryomalus, a younger company, is based in the Saint-Joseph-du-Lac region of Quebec. Their 2007 variety, which comes in a skinny bottle like its dessert wine cousins, includes five types of apple: McIntosh, Cortland, Lobo, Spartan, and Empire.

The taste is like a hypothetical melted scoop of apple gelato—one sip locks in so much apple flavor. It's as if you were drinking the juice from ten apples in one gulp—multiplied by alcohol. It has a nice tartness without becoming syrupy sweet, and tastes especially good with cheese.

Cryomalus isn't sold in the United States yet (they're working on it) but look for other brands like Vermont-based Eden Ice Cider Company.

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