We don’t need an excuse to visit the beautiful and grand venue of Stanmer House, near Brighton.

It’s based in Stanmer village which has an old Sussex feel, a great start, or finish to an adventure in the South Downs National Park.

Aspall's My wife and I attended an evening at Stanmer House hosted by the Suffolk cider maker Aspall. 8 generations of family members have hand crafted cyder in the market town of Debenham. I know of 6 generations of family members like Heck’s in Somerset, but I think to my knowledge, Aspall are the oldest craft cider makers in the UK.

The evening was intriguing as we were asked to compare how the wine and cider’s that we were tasted either complemented the food, or otherwise. There were about 20 people in the room, mostly wine drinkers.

So how did the Real Cider compare with the already established food and wine matching?

First up was scallops as a starter – we had the Aspall draught cider which really energised the pallette and the fruit taste brought out the seafood flavours. A genuine still real cider, a mixture of Eastern county bittersweet apples and West Country cider apples.

A memorable experience and great start! We also had a white wine which was far too acidic, and destroyed the delicate tastes from the scallops.

Imperial-Vintage-500ml-BottleThen main course, sliced duck fillet with a fruit gravy. Of course the wine choice was a rich red wine. Which, for me, numbed the pallette and striped the mouth of any flavours from this meal.

The cider on the other hand, the Imperial Vintage which was a pleasure to sip – a dry start with a sweet mellow finish. Enjoyed in a wine glass, and the ambience of Stanmer House – a strong contender and winner for me here.

Then an assortment of rich deserts, where we had a desert wine and a fruit cider containing redcurrant and blackberries, Isabel’s berry. Both complemented the deserts, and it really was a close match here, and I would say would depend on your own preference for sweetness, and whether you like sparkling or still. The berry was like a desert itself, floral and moorish. I can imagine this will be a popular drink this summer time.

The overall winner of the evening

.. was Cider, getting double the number of votes to wine. 24 to 12 respectively. Even the long standing wine fans were swayed by the apple!

All in all, a great event and a great opportunity to learn and enjoy Aspall’s fine ciders.

If you are in Brighton, look out for them on draught at Indigo pubs chains.

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