Descriptive or epicurean, cider tasting has five steps:
Several extrinsic factors are important for a successful tasting experience:
- Serving temperature: The cider should be chilled to between 10° and 12°C.
- Place: Avoid noisy places, where it is difficult to concentrate and where other odours (cigarette smoke, coffee, perfume, etc.) can disturb the tasting experience.
- Glassware: Choose a stemmed glass.
- Your attitude: Be relaxed and focused.
- Limpidity: A limpid cider is transparent, without particles in suspension or any residue.
- Colour: The cider’s colour is related to the tannins found in the apples and can vary from yellow to orangey brown.
- Effervescence: Here, assess the head (foam) that forms: its quality, its intensity and its persistence.
Judging the bouquet
The nose identifies the bouquet — the different aromas present along with their quality and their intensity. Ideally, tasting requires a tulip-shaped glass.
• The first sniff, called the first nose, is taken without swirling the cider in the glass.
• Then the cider is gently swirled in the glass to gradually release the less volatile aromas that can be detected during the second nose.
• Use the aroma wheel, a very useful tool to better appreciate the aromatic richness of cider.
Judging the palate
Tasting and the palate:
- The first impressions generally involve the perception of various flavours. There are four basic taste dimensions: sweet, sour, salty and bitter. In cider, the balance between three dimensions are assessed: bitter, sweet and sour (acidic).
- An assessment of the aromas noted in the mouth retronasally helps to complete the nose assessment.
The finish is the impression that the cider leaves in the mouth after swallowing. This is the aftertaste that flavours leave and involves aromatic persistence. Astringency is generally noted during the finish.
For help, have a look at our glossary.