Move over, rosé cider — there’s a new, brightly hued, boozy drink made of apples in town: Wölffer Estate Vineyards’ No. 139 Red Cider has arrived, and I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s the fall drink none of us knew we needed. Ruby red in color, this dry cider is rosé cider’s deeper, darker cousin; if you’re not quite ready to give up your favorite new discovery of the summer as the weather starts to get cooler, it might be just what you’re looking for. It also sounds like the perfect new addition to Wölffer’s existing stable of dry ciders, because, well… when you’ve already got Dry White and Dry Rosé Ciders on offer, why not round out the bunch and add a red to the mix?
Although wine-inspired rosé cider is by no means a new invention — Hamptons-based Wölffer, which was founded in 1988, introduced both their No 139 Dry White and Dry Rosé Ciders in 2012, piggybacking off of literally thousands of years’ worth of hard cider history — the drink saw a huge uptick in popularity this year; indeed, for many, it became the Drink of the Summer for 2018.
Interestingly, though, there isn’t really a consensus on how to make rosé cider, or even what it really is: As Shacksbury Cider co-founder David Dolginow told Food and Wine back in February, “There’s no one easy answer to how a rosé cider gets its color and flavor. It’s all over the map.” Said Dolginow, “Some producers use berries or red fruits or hibiscus, others go for extract or red food coloring.” What rosé ciders do all generally have in common is that they’re light and fruity — and, of course, pink. Although there might not be any grapes involved in them, it sort of helps to think of them as what might happen if a nice, dry cider and a rosé wine had a baby.
Like rosé cider, Wölffer’s red cider is inspired by wine — but in this case, it’s red wine, rather than the light pink Provencal-style of rosé which has dominated summer drink menus for the past few years. Meant to b a “vibrant, food-friendly” cider, the No. 139 Red Cider “combines the rich fruit aromas of a red wine and the crispness of Wölffer’s Rosé and White ciders,” as the drink’s own description puts it. Made of Jonagold, Mutsu (Crispin), Golden Delicious, Idared, Law Rome, and Northern Spy apples, in includes abundant red fruit notes — specifically raspberry, blackberry, and black currant — with “lively acidity and a clean finish.” It’s intended to be served chilled, which makes sense even without considering the trend of serving red wine chilled that’s been on the rise recently; if you’ve ever had a room-temperature hard cider… well, you’ll know that this kind of cider just isn’t at its best unless it’s chilled. (Warm mulled cider is the exception, but this... is not that.)
In some ways, red cider — or at least, Wölffer’s red cider — sounds a little bit like the cider equivalent of dark rosé to me; neither of them is sweet, even if they look as though they should be, and both have more body and deeper fruit notes than paler rosés or rosé ciders do. Indeed, Wölffer’s recommendations for foods to pair with their No. 139 Red Rose include Mexican dishes, Asian dishes, and soft cheeses — not unlike the kind of foods that go well with dark rosé, which is sometimes termed rosé d’assiette — literally, “rosé for eating.”
Wölffer’s No. 139 Red Cider is currently available at the Wölffer Estate Vineyard Tasting Room and the Wine Stand at Wölffer Estate in Sagaponack, New York, the Wölffer Kitchen locations in Sag Harbor and Amagansett, and retailers on the East End of Long Island; it will also hit retailers in New York City on Sept. 4. Or, head to Wölffer’s online store and order it there; it’s available in packs of 12 for $48. Bottoms up!