Ryan studied perry-making both in England and in France's Normandy region. Pears present special problems to the cider-maker because of their chemical structure, putting perry at the apex of the cider-maker's art. Ryan says it boils down to a few "core principles." One of these is paying close attention to proper picking time; another is slow fermentation, to extract as much of the delicate fruit flavor as possible. Ryan also puts her perry through malolactic fermentation, the same process that winemakers use to give their wines a creamy texture. Her Hudson Valley Farmhouse Perry is the genuine article: very elegant with a lovely structure.

WOODCHUCK PEAR CIDER ($8 per six-pack)


In rural Middlebury, Vermont (six hours from New York, four and a half hours from Boston, three hours from Montreal, and pretty much nowhere near anywhere else), The Green Mountain Cidery produces a beverage that dates back to the early days of the American colonies. Cider was, in fact, the all-American drink of choice until it was supplanted by beer, which became the country's populist drink in the 19th century.

These days, there's a revival of interest in ciders of all sorts. Ironically, the cider renaissance is a spin-off of the craftbrew movement, proving that everything moves in cycles. Many cider aficionados start as beer drinkers. The Woodchuck brand is made at the Green Mountain Cidery, where pear is the most recent addition to the Woodchuck lineup, which also includes three different apple ciders. I like this unassuming but tasty cider with sandwiches of all kinds, but it really hits the spot with a tuna melt.

LAMBRINI BIANCO ($4 per 750 ml.)