I am not sure whether cider is actually English in origin. It ('cidre') seems to be drunk more commonly than wine or beer or ale in northern France, especially in Normandy and Britanny. Did we imbue the taste in the Normans, or vice versa, I wonder?
Now there's an interesting thought. Has any evidence for a cider press been found in early archaeological contexts?
Less common, but also found in France is Perry (I think 'poiree'), which I agree is the better drink, although I confess it is the only one that has ever made me fighting drunk on one glass (indeed any number of glasses, and I speak as a former neat gin drinker). Black Bull Perry from Leigh Sinton was the culprit. Perry is easy to make - crush the pears into a vat and leave it.
Sadly, and for the simple-minded, we are now being accosted in the shops by 'pear cider' which is both an impoverishment of the language and a contradiction in terms.
Stewart Peachey of Historical Management Associates (www.stuart-hmaltd.com) and othersis trying to save historically significant apple trees (and, I hope, pear trees) by acquiring land and planting orchards of threatened or unique varieties. He would be worth consulting.
As usual, the views expressed in this email are the opinionated views of the writer and the organisation he represents.
Malcolm J Watkins, BA, AMA, MIFA