Book Review #4, World’s Best Ciders – Taste, Tradition, and Terroir

Part four of four of reviews of cider-related books I obtained from my local library.  Here are links to part 1part 2, and part 3.  This time the book is World’s Best Ciders – Taste, Tradition, and Terroir (Pete Brown & Bill Bradshaw, hardcover, published 2013).  Its is available on Amazon for $17.56 (a great deal compared to the $30 list price on the book).  The pair is also coming out with a film about cider (The Cider Hunters)!  Check out the trailer here and follow the page on Facebook here.

This book is much more cider enthusiast (vs. cidermaking) friendly than the previous three books.  I enjoyed it so much that I bought a copy, which says a lot as I haven’t bought a book in years!  Its a great coffee table book about cider with lovely photos & graphics.  There are lots of cider recommendations and information indexed by region.  This is truly a world guide in cider!  It also has a very well-written introduction with some basic information about cider, its history, styles, flavors, tasting, etc.

I was even lucky enough to attend Capitol Cider’s meet & greet, book signing, and tasting with co-author Bill Bradshaw last night!  We’re lucky to have him in Seattle for Cider Summit as he resides in the UK.  (a post on that event is in work)

world's best ciders

Chapters:

Introduction

Cider Basics
History of Cider
Apples, Orchards, and the Cider Year
How CIder is Made
Cider Flavors
Commercial Brands
Profile: Peter Mitchell
Perry
Tasting Cider
Tasting Symbols

Planet Cider
A World of Cider
(each of these subchapters has an introduction, profiles, styles, cider suggestions, etc)

Europe
Spain
France
Germany
Austria
United Kingdom
Ireland
Rest of Europe

The Americas
United States
Canada
Argentina and Chile

Australia and New Zealand

Rest of World
South Africa

Cider and Food

Some Great Excerpts:

  • First sentence of the book:  Cider is the world’s most misunderstood drink.
  • Cider takes us back to an earlier, simpler time.  It reconnects us with the land and the cycle of the seasons.  And maybe, in an increasingly virtual, synthetic, and prepackaged age, that’s why cider’s popularity is blooming around the world.
  • We do not claim that the 244 ciders in this book are definitely the best 244 in the world, but that they are 244 of the best.  Every cider in this book is one that we’ve enjoyed and one we think worth trying.  Still, everyone’s palate is different.
  • It is one of the fastest growing drinks in the world, sweeter than beer, less potent than wine, simple and yet capable of complex greatness.  Welcome to the cider revolution.
  • Those who don’t know cider can have a snide attitude if the word terroir is used in conjunction with it.  Social conditioning tells us that this is a concept exclusive to the sophistication and subtlety of wine.  But if we accept that climate (or microclimate), temperature, and soil can have a profound effect on one particular fruit–which we do, because it is true–then logically it would be bizarre to suggest it has no such effect on other fruit.
  • When we began writing this book, a leading drinks writer said to us, “Interesting, but what can you write about cider?  It tastes like apples.  What else is there to say?”
  • Some of us have far higher concentrations of taste buds than others, which creates dramatically different perceptions of flavor.  There’s also an emerging body of research that seems to prove that taste cannot be separated from other stimuli and that context, environment, mood, and memory all make something “taste” different.
  • Drink straight from the bottle and you’re cutting your nose–and about 80 percent of the flavor compounds–out of the equation.

In closing, this book comes highly recommended!  Its a great addition to our living room and a conversation starter.  For me this isn’t so much a book that you read cover to cover, but one that you pick up from time to time and leaf through a section, such as when a particular cider region strikes your fancy.  Its also a great introduction to cider to share with our houseguests before/during/after we have a cider tasting (as always happens in our house as few folks are familiar with good craft cider).

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