Fall is the perfect time to explore hard cider.

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Helen Norman

Hard cider was made to be enjoyed with food -- in early America, its alcohol content rendered it safer to drink than water. Hosting your own tasting? Dan Pucci, cider director at Wassail, a cider restaurant in New York City, offers a few pairing suggestions.

Spanish Ciders

PAIR WITH: DRIED SAUSAGE + HARD OR SEMIHARD CHEESE + QUINCE PASTE

This Spanish-inspired grouping works well with Spanish-style cider. Its acidity balances heavier flavors. Above: summer sausage (1); Firefly Farms Cabra La Mancha (2); membrillo, or quince paste (3).

(DON'T MISS: Cheese Pairing with a Twist)

Sparkling Ciders

PAIR WITH: SALTY MEATS + SOFT CHEESE + PICKLED BEETS + JAM

A full-bodied sparkling cider stands up to these strong flavors and creamy textures. Above: coppa (4), De-Glae Sheep Dairy Dew Drop (5), pickled golden beets (6), black-raspberry jam (7).

(TRY: Our Sweet-Pickled Shaved Golden Beets Recipe)

Hoppy Ciders

PAIR WITH: CRACKERS + BOLOGNA + HERBED GOAT CHEESE + PICKLED CARROTS

Herbaceous fare is lovely with the grassy taste of a hops-infused cider. Above: buckwheat crackers (8), bologna (9), Charlottetown Farm aged goat crottin (10), pickled carrots (11).

(MAKE: Our Pickled Carrots Recipe)

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