Here is a definition of some of the terminology I use in my reviews, in the order I use them in a review. As applicable, each term lists possibilities from smallest to greatest, such as dry to sweet for sweetness. Note that cider tasting is not objective, but I try to best describe the experience, and state my opinion separately. Just because I don’t like a cider doesn’t mean someone else won’t, as we all have different tastes. Also see here for more cider tasting terminology.
Temperature – Unless specified, I start tasting a cider at fridge temperature and let it warm up as I’m drinking it, noting if there is a more enjoyable drinking temperature. Most cider experts recommend drinking cider somewhere between fridge and room temperature. I typically prefer colder for easy drinking ciders and a bit warmer for richer ciders, unless they are high ABV, then the colder the better.
Hue – description of the color of the cider
Clarity – clear or hazy
Carbonation – bubbles – still (none), low, medium, or high (sparkling)
Aroma – description of the scent of the cider (scent is very much tied into flavor)
Sweetness – perceived residual sugar content – dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet, sweet, or sweet
Body – the cider’s structure, how viscous/full it feels in the mouth, from watery to syrupy – light, medium, or full
Tartness – initial sharp bite of the cider due to acid content – low, moderate, or high
Acidity – perceived total lingering acid content – low, moderate, or high
Bitterness – a flavor property found in black coffee, unsweetened cocoa, quinine, etc – often related to tannins but sometimes separate – low, moderate or high
Sourness – A flavor property often used interchangeably with tartness but which I perceive as very different. It is present further back on the palate of the mouth, and is typically from lactic acid, similar to sour beers. It is often from wild fermentation (using yeasts naturally on the apples to ferment the cider, instead of killing them off and adding new yeast. Often found in Spanish Sidra and American Farmhouse-style ciders. – low, moderate, or high
Funk – a flavor property describing a “farmyard” type quality – low, moderate, or high
Tannins – a flavor property related to astringency; they dry the mouth, and are also present in highly-steeped teas – low, moderate, or high
Flavor notes – description of the perceived flavors of the cider, often not flavor additions but by-products of the fermentation process, yeast selection, apple selection, etc
Finish length – how long the cider’s flavor lingers in the mouth after swallowing – short, medium, long, or very long
Apple flavor – like wine, cider often doesn’t taste of apples, but many do, especially due to back sweetening (adding unfermented juice to the fermented cider to sweeten the final product), so this describes how much the cider tastes of apples – low, moderate, or high
Sessionability – how easy it is to drink larger quantities of the cider – low, moderate, or high
Complexity – the cider’s flavor complexity – more complex ciders have a larger number of flavor notes and are typically made from cider apple varieties instead of dessert (supermarket) apple varieties – low, moderate, or high
Flavor intensity – how strongly a cider is flavored, either intentionally (by flavor additions) or as a by-product of the fermentation process, yeast selection, apple selection, etc – low, moderate, or high
Anything I missed? Let me know.