Cider Tasting Terminology 101

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:

TERMS

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.

Sources:
Drinking Cider, Cider Glossary
Cider Monger, Cider Glossary
Candle Wine Project, Cider Tasting Vocabulary
United States of Cider, Terminology Category

LINKS

I’m no expert, so I think often the experts can explain things better than I can,  Here are some great bonus links:

Previously posted links to a great video series from Schilling on Cider Tasting

Previously posted cider tasting guide

Article on cider apple varieties.

Cider style guidelines from Beer Judge Certification program

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