The terms 'perry' and 'pear cider' are often used interchangeably but industrial 'pear cider' is typically made by adding concentrated pear juice to apple cider. True perry is made by juicing pears and allowing the fermentation process to occur in the same way that cider is made. Traditional perry is made from perry pears, while modern perries may often use a blend of cooking and eating varieties.
The process of making traditional perry can be an arduous task, as perry pear trees need to be very mature, often taking generations to grow to their full size, yet sometimes producing fruit only as large as a marble! Perry pears originated from around May Hill on the borders of Herefordshire and Gloucestershire and are now part of the EU's Protected Geographical Indication, similar to Cornish clotted cream or Roquefort cheese.
Perry pears are naturally very astringent due to high levels of acidity and tannins, but once fermented can produce extremely light, fragrant, and delicate flavours. Perries that have been bottle conditioned or produced as a Pét Nat (pétillant naturel) are naturally sparkling and can be comparable to a fine sparkling wine or Champagne.