When cider isn't really cider at all

IN CIDER TRADING: Cider is traditionally made from fermented apple juice.
IN CIDER TRADING: Cider is traditionally made from fermented apple juice.

Wine is wine. Beer is beer. Cider is cider.

Right? Well, not really.

The problem with alcoholic drinks is that it is often very difficult to find out exactly what is in them.

Nutritional information is scant - there is more on a bottle of Coke than a bottle of beer - so we often take people at their word.

But often that word is, well, wrong. Especially when it comes to cider. 

According to the Oxford Dictionary, cider is ''an alcoholic drink made from fermented apple juice''.

So picking up a bottle of something calling itself cider should mean you are getting cider. Unfortunately, it does not.

The bee in my bonnet is Rekorderlig

Rekorderlig proudly touts via its website that it was created ''with the purest spring water''. 

There's just one problem with that - cider is made from apples, not water.

The process for making wine and cider is remarkably similar: pick fruit, crush fruit into juice, yeast ferments the sugar from the fruit juice into gas and alcohol, thereby creating your product.

But Rekorderlig is not made in that way, or from just apples. 

Just take a look at the ingredient list for its strawberry and lime flavour: carbonated water, pear and apple wines, sugar, acids: citric acid and sodium citric, berry flavours, preservatives, and caramel colour.

The winter cider has a similar ingredients list. Heck, even the apple cider - which you think would be made only of apples - has the ''purest spring water'' in it.

But the scariest part of the ingredient list is not what is lacking, but what is not.

The natural sugars from apple juice should be more than enough to get to 4 per cent alcohol - as most of the Rekorderlig range is - so adding more sugar is only going to make the drink sweeter and worse for you.

Matakana company Zeffer Cider sent off some of their range and a few of their competitors' offerings to an independent lab for some testing, and the results for Rekorderlig are quite frightening.

Their apple and blackcurrant flavour has a whopping 51 grams of sugar per 500mL bottle. That's about 12 teaspoons of sugar per bottle.

That is nearly as much as what is in 500mL of Coca-Cola.

Now go take a look at the cider range in a supermarket. You will see all sorts of brands, but not Rekorderlig.
Why? Because Rekorderlig is a ready-to-drink. An RTD. An alcopop. In the same family as Cody's, Vodka Cruiser or any of those other drinks you can only buy in liquor stores.

Calling Rekorderlig a cider is like calling a turkey a takahe, and screams of Tui-ism.

I emailed Rekorderlig with some of my concerns. I'm still waiting for a reply.

But if you want a real cider, grab a bottle of Zeffer's Slack Ma Girdle. 

A 7 per cent drink brewed with more than 50 different cider apple varieties - no added sugar or ''purest spring water'' here - it tastes like a cider should: tart, refreshing and of apples.

That is because it is made from apples. Not caramel colour, not wine, not citric acid - just apples.
If you want a fresh apple cider, you could do worse than Zeffer's.

And in case you were wondering, it has just 6.8g of sugar per 500mL.

It may not keep the doctor away, but that cider is more likely to keep the dentist at bay than Rekorderlig.

Fairfax Media