Get your tongue more then just tasting, get it wagging and
become an ambassador of the great craft cider movement with our guide to the

Terminology for the Organoleptic Evaluation of Cider

 

APPEARANCE:          

  • Clarity: clear, cloudy, hazy, bright
  • Color: white, straw, amber, golden, copper
  • Depth: applied to overall perceptions (pale, dark, light, deep, dense)
  • Sparkling: whether cider is carbonated or still, mousse (how persistent is effervescence, long-lasting or short-lived)
  • Tears: also called "legs"; clear liquid clinging to side of glass, like teardrops
  • Viscosity: syrup-like consistency when swirled in glass

 

 

AROMATICS:  

  • Cidery: unique, distinctive, cider-like characteristic of many ciders using traditional cider apples
  • Winey: wine-like, vinous, bouquet
  • Pear drops: intense pear aroma; might even smell like a banana
  • Estery: sweet-solvent, banana, acetone, chemical-like, artificial fruity-floral aroma
  • Floral: perfumed, fragrant, like flowers
  • Spirituous: like alcohol; hot, burning, heady; possible rum, whiskey, or brandy characteristics
  • Piquant: pungent, sulfuric, like a burnt match, prickling, stringing, tangy; can be due to fermentation at high temperatures of excessive use of sulfites
  • Yeasty: bread-like aroma caused by cider sitting on its lees (spent yeast) for an extended period of time; may be described as "meaty"

 

 

FRUIT AROMAS AND FLAVORS:

  • Bittersweet apple: may be described as low, heavy, or thick; fruity note characteristic of traditional cider apples, like the non-woody smell under apple trees
  • Berry fruits: strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, blackcurrant
  • Culinary apple: fresh, acidic, high fruity notes, like Granny Smith apple
  • Citrus fruit: lemon, grapefruit, orange, orange peel
  • Pear: fresh, ripe pear
  • Dried fruit: raisins, sherry-like (possibly even nutty), prunes, dried figs, strawberry jam
  • Summer/stone fruits: peach, plum

 

 

HERBACEOUS AROMAS AND FLAVORS:

  • Grassy: fresh-cut grass, fresh green leaves

  • Elderflower: like elderflowers (herbaceous, not floral); can be "catty" at high concentrations (not necessarily a bad thing)

  • Vegetative: like vegetables; at low levels, may add positive complexity, but a high concentrations it can be sulfury and unpleasant
  • Hay/straw: hay, straw, dried, grass, dried leaves
  • Nutty: brazil nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, marzipan
  • Mousy: cider disorder caused by lactic acid bacteria; smells and tastes like the bottom of a rodent's den

 

 

SWEET AROMAS & FLAVORS

  • Caramel: burnt sugar, toffee, molasses
  • Butterscotch: buttery, diacetyl; in moderation and in certain regional styles it contribues to flavor, but can be unpleasant in large concentrations
  • Vanilla: vanilla, custard
  • Syrupy: maple syrup
  • Honey: honey!
  • Confectionary: candy, bubblegum, fruit-flavored candy

 

 

SPICY/WOODY AROMAS AND FLAVORS

  • Spicy: cloves, allspice, nutmeg, black pepper, licorice, cinnamon
  • Woody: seasoned wood, resinous, cedarwood, fresh sawdust, woodchips, fir needles; oaky like Chardonnay 
  • Phenolic: smoky, wood fires, tar, medicinal, leathery
  • Moldy/musty: unpleasant smell sometimes compared to damp cardboard or sherry; due to oxidation of over-filtration

 

 

TASTE

  • Sweet: sugary; could be from the sugar left or added fermentation
  • Acidic: sour, sharp, tart; makes you salivate
  • Salty: like salt
  • Bitter: quinine, tonic water, black coffee
  • Acetic: a smell and sharp taste like vinegar, solvent, or acetone/nail polish remover; caused by acetic or lactic acid bacteria (sometimes very desirable).

 

 

MOUTHFEEL

  • Body: the "middle" of weight of a mouthful of cider; thin, medium, full body
  • Warming: hot, fiery in the mouth, warm at back of throat
  • Creamy: like cream, thick-soft
  • Metallic: a tinny or coppery taste caused by exposure to certain metals (generally not desired)
  • Astringent: mouth-puckering, drying sensation, like sucking on a tea bag, tannic
  • Powdery: dusty, chalky

 

Taken from Tilted Shed Ciderworks, Sonoma Country, CA www.tiltedshed.com

Adapted from “Cider and Perry Table of Attributes,” National Association of Cider Makers (UK) and Cider: Sweet and Hard by Ben Watson. Compiled by Tilted Shed Ciderworks, Sonoma County, CA, www.tiltedshed.com.