As my cider journey has evolved and I’ve been reviewing ciders, I’ve been more interested in cider tasting (descriptor) terminology. So, I thought I’d share some common cider tasting vocabulary:
Acidity: The presence of significant malic acid, which causes a sharpness, briskness, sourness, or “zing” in a cider.
Aftertaste: The lingering taste of the cider on the back of the throat, hopefully pleasant.
Apple juice concentrate: Syrup from apple juice with water content reduced. Often used in commercial cidermaking to cheaply make a sweeter cider.
Balanced: A cider which has no single component (such as sweetness, bitterness, or acidity) as overpowering.
Barrel aged: Further aging of a cider in a wood barrel, which influences the cider, imparting additional flavor. This can add a good deal of complexity. Note that cider can also be barrel fermented.
Bittersharp cider apple: High acid and high tannin apples.
Bittersweet cider apple: Low acid and high tannin apples.
Brix: Residual sugar content in liquid (sweetness). One degree Brix is 1 gram of sucrose in 100 grams of solution Measured using a hydrometer (which also can tell you the Alcohol by Volume, ABV, and specific gravity, relative density of the liquid). A formula can be used to determine Brix and in turn specific gravity if you know how many grams of sugar there are in a certain amount of cider.
Clarity: A cider’s opacity. Brilliant, clear, slightly hazy, hazy, or cloudy.
Cloying: Sticky, tacky, syrupy, or sickly sweet in taste & mouthfeel.
Diacetyl: Aroma and flavor described at butter, butterscotch, or toffee.
Ester: Sweet chemically artificial, banana, or tropical fruit flavor or aroma.
Mouthfeel: The feel / impression of the cider in the mouth. Its body, weight, texture, etc.
Sharp cider apple: High acid and low tannin apples.
Single varietal: Cider made from only one type of apple (in contrast to most cider which are blends).
Sugars: Yeast ferments sugars to alcohol. Sugar may be added to aid the fermentation process.
Sweet cider apple: Low acid and low tannin apples.
Sweetness: Taste associated with sugars in cider, including vanilla, honey, or syrup notes. The percentage of residual sweetness makes a cider sweet, semi-sweet, semi-dry, or dry. There can often be a difference between measured and perceived sweetness though, and acidity plays a big roll.
Tannins: Contribute to bitterness and astringency. Can cause a mouth-puckering taste and in excess can dry the mouth.
I’m no expert, so I think often the experts can explain things better than I can, Here are some great bonus links: