Differences between Wine, Beer, and Cider

December 16, 2009

So what is the difference between wine, beer, and cider? Simply put, wine is at about 12-18% alcohol, beer is made from grains and hops and is about 6 to now pushing 9% alcohol, and cider is made from apples and is about the same alcohol content as beer. However, cider is made in the same fashion as wine even though it is at a weaker strength.

I’ll admit, I don’t know much about beer. That would be my husband’s department. He is getting ready to bottle his second batch after watching me ferment cider and wine and becoming jealous. What I have observed, however, is that he puts various hops and grains in warm water and lets them seep like tea for almost an hour, a process which makes it tedious for making batches less than five gallons. He has to be very meticulous about cleaning and sanitizing, and some normal soaps cannot be used due to residues. Beer also tends to be at a milder pH than cider and wine, and all in all, a batch is ready for drinking in six weeks.

Wine and cider both use juice, or reconstituted juice, and are not cooked. Sanitizing is still important, but seems to not to get as sick, in my experience, due to the more acidic pH. Unfortunately for impatient people, a batch of wine or cider will not be ready for drinking for several months.

What happens during fermentation is that yeast eat the sugar and convert it to CO2 and alcohol. Because grapes, the traditional material for wine, have a higher sugar content than apples, the traditional material for cider, the finished product then has more alcohol, hence the difference between the two. In the case of my first batch being and apple wine, I had to add sugar to increase the amount present for the yeast to convert.

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