Perry is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented pears, similar to the way cider is made from apples. It has been common for centuries in England, particularly in the Three Counties (Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire); it is also made in parts of South Wales and France, especially Normandy and Anjou.
In more recent years, commercial perry has also been referred to as "pear cider", but some organisations (such as CAMRA) do not accept this as a name for the traditional drink. The National Association of Cider Makers, on the other hand, disagrees, insisting that the terms perry and pear cider are interchangeable. An over twenty-fold increase of sales of industrially manufactured "pear cider" produced from often imported concentrate makes the matter especially contentious.
Perry pears are thought to be descended from wild hybrids, known as wildings, between the cultivated pear Pyrus communis subsp. communis and the now-rare wild pear Pyrus communis subsp. pyraster. The cultivated pear P. communis was brought to northern Europe by the Romans. In the fourth century CE Saint Jerome referred to perry as piracium. Wild pear hybrids were, over time, selected locally for desirable qualities and by the 1800s, many regional varieties had been identified.
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