In the same way sweet grape juice is fermented to transform it into wine, champagne and brandy, apple juice can also be turned into several alcoholic drinks. The process of fermenting relies on the sugars in the juice, and apples have plenty of those. The final alcoholic beverages have at least some apple flavor.
Ranging in alcohol content from 2 to 8 percent, hard ciders include a growing number of brands and types. As of 2014, hard cider has grown to become a major player, notes “Wine Enthusiast” magazine, comparing it to the rise of craft beer. Like turning grapes into wine, apples are turned into cider by squeezing the juice from them, and then allowing that juice to ferment before bottling.
While grapes are the undisputed king of wine, there is no law saying apples can’t be used to make a nice bottle of wine. Apple wine carries a similar flavor profile to grape-based wine, but is generally sweeter and carries a bit of the apple flavor through the fermentation process into the bottle. Apple wine usually has a golden amber color, but this somewhat depends on the varieties of apples used to make the wine and how ripe the apples were. Although apple wine has a strong flavor, it’s also fruity and refreshing. The alcohol content is usually 6 to 7.5 percent. Apple wine is made in the U.S., as well as various European countries.
Brandy is another alcoholic beverage that can be made with a number of fruits, including apples. Calvados is a specific type of brandy made from apples in the French countryside, where apple juice is distilled and then aged in oak barrels. The end product is a potent liquor where the alcohol content can approach 40 percent. Calvados is typically consumed on its own or with some ice, but it can be mixed into cocktails calling for brandy.
References and ResourcesIowa State University: Apple Wine
Wine World: Making Fruit Wine
The New York Times: Calvados: The Flavor of Apples and a Sip of Fall
Wine Enthusiast: Guide to Hard Cider
The Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management: Lavanttaler Apfelwein