The Best (and Worst) Rosé Ciders

Here's our highly subjective ranking of five pink-tinged sips, all of which are available in Vancouver right now.

June 3, 2019

By Vancouver Magazine

What is it about rosé that makes it so appealing to the wine-drinking (and non-wine-drinking) crowd? Is it its sparkling, ridiculously-easy-to-pound-back-on-a-patio nature? Its on-trend-before-it-was-even-a-trend millennial-pink hue? Or is it simply that rosé conveniently rhymes with “day,” thus making the catchphrase “Rosé All Day” a thing, one that’s been plastered all over T-shirts, mugs and your Instagram Explore page in recent years?

Whatever it is, brands have been quick to latch onto rosé’s popularity, dreaming up everything from rosé gummy bears and ice cream to, now, hard cider. So when cans of rosé cider began making their way across our editors’ desks this spring, there was only one thing to do: a very scientific blind taste test with a handful of the VanMag office’s most serious imbibers to determine exactly which rosé cider rules them all. (Before we dive into this pretty-in-pink category of sips, it should be noted that most rosé ciders aren’t actually a combo of rosé and cider. They’re named that way for their blush colour, which actually come from ingredients like red-fleshed apples and hibiscus flowers.)

In celebration of World Cider Day (June 3) and National Rosé Day (June 8), here’s our highly subjective ranking of rosé ciders available in Vancouver now, listed from the worst to absolute best. (Because who doesn’t love a little suspense?)

5. Rosé All Day by Growers Cider Co.

As someone who has never tried a rosé cider in their life, I’m not sure what makes a good one. But it definitely ain’t whatever Growers Cider did to concoct this unpleasant, artificial bomb. The drink gets points for its delightful hue, which was closest to classic millennial pink among our contenders, though, taste-wise, it verges way too close to bubblegum territory for my and our other taste-testers’ liking. The bottle’s label claims that the sip is “made with a splash of wine,” but you don’t really get much of a rosé flavour… or that of cider, for that matter. It’s mostly just overly fake-sweet and cloying, probably due to the fact that two of its four ingredients are “natural flavour” and “colour” (very specific!), the latter of which I can only assume gives the drink its Pantone-approved baby pink shade. “No shortcuts, just great taste, plain and simple,” the label reads. Debatable, Growers. Debatable.—Lucy Lau, style editor   

4. Rosé Apple Cider by Strongbow

I believe my initial thoughts on Strongbow’s entry in this category were “I actually hate this.” Which is a reaction that was definitely stronger than those of the rest of the taste-testing panel. For starters, I’m not much of a cider drinker (I prefer to consume the most calories possible in my alcoholic drinks, thank you very much), and I have never loved Strongbow in particular. I’ll concede that many (including my fellow taste-testers) would probably love to sip one of these on a hot summer day—it has a crushable, easy-drinking quality that makes it very suited for that. But for me, it just carries too much of an artificial taste (the label literally lists “flavour” as one of its ingredients).—Nathan Caddell, associate editor

3. Hail Mary by Windfall Cider

Despite the snazzy pink branding on the can (which features a very Chromeo illustration of a bespectacled baby with a woman’s legs in an apple costume??), Hail Mary—from the locally based Windfall—pours more yellow than pink. Which raises the question: can it really be considered a rosé cider? Our taste-testing panel ultimately voted yes, thanks to the subtle notes of rose petal you get on your palate. There are also supposed to be berry and green-melon flavours, though we mostly got the taste of a crisp, decidedly tart crab-apple cider that should please imbibers who like their bevvies more dry than sweet. Not the most rosé of rosé ciders, but a solid middle-ground pick for cider drinkers.—L.L.

2. Rosé by Lonetree Cider

I’ll admit that I assumed Lonetree would be the winner of this category (its dry cider is my go-to at the pub these days). And while the BC Tree Fruits’ candidate takes the top choice as a one-off, I’ll gravitate to Lonetree for those days when I might want to have a more sessionable drink. It’s not bone dry, but it’s not particularly sweet either—and less forwardly funky than the top choice (though none of the ciders we tasted go all-out Basque-style in their funkiness). It gets its rosé tint from the addition of elderberry juice, and has a slightly yeast-y backbone and hint of rosé wine flavour thanks to the addition of champagne yeast in the fermentation process. I’ll gladly quaff one (or, erm, a few) of these pretty pink treats on a hot summer patio.—Anicka Quin, editorial director

THE WINNER: Rosé by BC Tree Fruits Cider Co.

My reaction when the group decided to give top honours to (what turned out to be) BC Tree Fruits’ Broken Ladder rosé cider was a mixture of relief and, in my mind, well-earned hubris. You see, months ago I put together a drinks round-up and wrote about this very cider. But, for that story, I hadn’t ranked it against other such drinks. I also didn’t have a ton of confidence in my ability to adequately judge ciders. So, yeah, I was pretty jazzed when it was revealed that the one I had championed months prior was our collective favourite. And why not? As I said then, the beverage’s real apples and cherries stand out and create an extremely drinkable and never-too-dry cider. I never should have doubted myself, obviously.—N.C.

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