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Reid's explains how to pair food and hard cider

Hard Cider is the new black.

It's everywhere - wineries, festivals and 5K runs.

But Reid's Orchard and Winery in Gettysburg wanted to do something different.

It hosted its first "educational meet and greet" Thursday, where guests tasted six hard ciders the winery makes, paired them with specific foods and learned about it all in the process.

Reid's branched out from wine into hard cider around fall 2010, said cider maker Philip Keating. They focused on making carbonated hard cider in 2014, taking advantage of the abundance of fruit grown in the area.

Dave Reid, co-owner of Reid's Orchard and Winery with his wife, Kathy, offered guests a history of apples Thursday and explained the process of creating the drinks they were about to taste.

"We're blessed this is apple country," he said.

Reid described the importance of cider's fermentation process, enforcing that it's important to monitor by looking, smelling and tasting. Reid's holds its cider in stainless, 1,000 liter tanks, he said.

"It's not complex; the real trick is to just pay attention to the process," said Reid.

Guests then received small food pairings on a square, black-marble slab. General manager, Conor Roderique, led the event, discussing the ingredients in the ciders, what to eat with it and answering questions from the audience.

"You take a sip to get familiar with the cider, then eat the food and take another sip to see how it interacts with the cider," Roderique said.

He also mentioned since cider is made with fresh fruit juice, it's reliant on what fruit has to offer that particular year in its flavors.

Chef Barb Redding explained the six food pairings that went along with the ciders.

"I taste the cider, and then it tells me if it needs to be paired with something sweet or salty," she said.

Redding also mentioned the importance of tasting before and after taking a bite.

A pallet is fresh when it first tastes the cider, but then the tongue is layered with flavors from the food, she said. People must make sure the cider really pairs by taking another sip afterward.

Roderique pointed out the cider they create is 7 percent alcohol. Since they are direct retailers, their cider is allowed to be 7 percent, he said. If they went through a distributor, it could only be 5 percent alcohol.

This was the first food-pairing event Reid's hosted, and the team is planning to do more, Keating and Roderique said.

When the event was over, Larry and Lori Korczyk of Gettysburg sat at the end of the long, black table with their platters nearly empty and not a drop of cider left in their glasses.

The couple is a fan of Reid's Orchard and Winery, they said, and always support local business.

"I enjoyed the pairings and evaluating the ciders," Larry Korczyk said.

His wife loved the history of it.

Roderique came up with the idea to host this event, he said, to teach people more about cider. He believes cider is still unknown to a lot of people but is interested in sharing his knowledge with others.

"It's interesting to expand people's horizons," he said.

At a glance

Here's a look at the ciders, their ingredients and food pairings:

Black Bear Hard Cider: Made with smokehouse apples and traditional cider apples. Paired with honey bologna.

JD Hard Cider: Made with pink lady apples. Paired with a dark chocolate truffle.

Mountain Top Hop: Made with pink lady apples and dry hops. Paired with smoked gouda.

Harvest Hard Cider: Called "the kitchen sink" or the farmhouse blend because it's made with a variety of apples. Paired with caramel cheddar on ciabatta with apple.

Apple Raspberry Cider: Made with a variety of apples and red raspberries. Paired with raspberry cheesecake.

Holiday Hard Cider (Black Currant): Made with various apples and black currant, an Eastern European berry that's tart in flavor. Paired with ham salad.