It’s not uncommon to see groups of young women, very often bachelorette parties, hopping from winery to winery via limousine along Midwest wine trails. Wine tasting is a popular date among couples, too, standing at the tasting bar, sipping a half dozen or so wines and then moving on to the next winery along the trail. In the past couple of decades the number of wineries in the Midwest has exploded. It seems the more wineries on a trail, the more popular the trail. Traverse City, Michigan, and nearby Leelanau and Old Mission Peninsulas are home to over 50 wineries. The area is a magnet for wine lovers. We visited some of the Traverse City wineries during our recent visit.
I’ve had flights of wine and flights of craft beer, but never before had I had a flight of hard cider. In fact, the only hard cider I’d tasted is the big-named, bottled kind. So when I saw the variety of ten or so flavors available at the Northern Natural Cider House in downtown Traverse City, I wanted to try as many as I could without going overboard. My husband and I each ordered a flight of four, allowing us to taste eight different flavors.
Except for the Traditional Apple flavor, the ciders are mostly mixed with various fruits. Northern Natural uses only Michigan grown apples in their beverages, and most of the other fruits are locally grown, as well. All are organic.
Similar to wine, ciders are described as semi-sweet or semi-dry. The Orange Blossom is described as off-dry. My favorite tended to be the semi-sweets, as they usually are with wines. The fruit was very pronounced in some, like the cherry; with others, it was more subtle. I could smell the fruit in some more than I could taste it.
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Lavender Apple was the most unusual flavor I sampled. It smelled beautiful, like fresh lavender flowers. It’s a semi-dry, and the taste wasn’t one of my favorites, but it’s one of the most sought after ciders for its uniqueness.
The food at Northern Natural Cider House is locally sourced and organic, with a menu that changes seasonally. My Traverse City Salad (sans the gorgonzola cheese) with a cherry vinaigrette was tasty and just enough, and my husband enjoyed his meal, a turkey sandwich special of the day served with a pasta salad and chips.
Northern Natural Cider House, located at 324 East Front Street, is a unique complement to the many wineries in Traverse City. Check the web site for hours and full menu.
Disclosure: My visit to Travers City was sponsored by Traverse City Tourism. However, our meal at Northern Natural Cider House was on our own, and any opinions expressed are strictly mine.
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