What Does Cider Taste Like?

The taste of cider can vary significantly depending on several factors, including the types of apples used, the fermentation process, and any added spices or flavours. Unlike beer, which has bitterness from hops, and wine, which has tannic complexity from grapes, cider’s flavours are straightforward and fruit-based.

Cider’s taste is primarily shaped by the type of apples used. Sweet and fruity ciders often use apples like Pink Lady or Gala, which impart a sugary flavour. In contrast, tart and tangy ciders use varieties like Granny Smith, giving them a crisp, acidic bite. The fermentation of apple sugars also has a large impact on the body of the cider.  Infusions of other fruits or spices add unique twists, making cider a refreshing and versatile alternative to both beer and wine.

Written by

martin harris

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  • Table of Contents

The Basic Flavour Profiles of Cider

There are many types of cider available each with their own unique set of traits. A few of the main kinds are listed below:

Sweet Cider

Sweet cider is typically non-alcoholic and is characterised by its sugary taste. It’s often enjoyed by people of all ages and is especially popular in the autumn when freshly pressed from local orchards. Popular brands of sweet cider include Woodchuck, Angry Orchard, and Crispin.

Dry Cider

Dry cider contains little to no residual sugar, resulting in a tart, crisp taste. It is often preferred by those who enjoy a less sweet beverage with more complexity and depth. Some popular dry ciders are Magners, Strongbow, Blackthorn, and Butford Organics Yarlington Mill.

Sparkling Cider

Sparkling cider is carbonated, which gives it a fizzy texture similar to that of champagne. It can be either sweet or dry and is a popular choice for celebrations and special occasions.

Still Cider

Still cider, unlike sparkling cider, is not carbonated. This type of cider often has a smooth, rich flavour and is typically enjoyed in a relaxed, casual setting.

Each Cider and Perry below has a completely unique and distinct flavour and the whole range can be sampled during a cider tour.


Factors Influencing Cider’s Taste

Types of Apples Used

The type of apples used greatly influences the taste of cider. Bittersweet apples, tart apples, and even specific varieties like Honeycrisp or Granny Smith each contribute unique flavour notes.

The Fermentation Process

The fermentation process can also affect the taste. For instance, longer fermentation times can lead to more complex flavours, while shorter fermentation can retain more of the apple’s natural sweetness.

Added Spices and Flavours

Many ciders are enhanced with additional spices and flavours such as cinnamon, cloves, or even other fruits. These additions can create a warm, spiced flavour profile that is perfect for cooler months.

Comparing Different Cider Types

Traditional vs. Modern Ciders

Traditional ciders often use specific cider apple varieties and traditional fermentation methods, resulting in a more rustic and robust flavour. Modern ciders might experiment with different fruits, sweeteners, and carbonation levels to appeal to a broader audience.

Regional Variations

Cider flavours can vary significantly by region. English ciders, for instance, often have a bittersweet taste, while American ciders might be more tart and sweet. Understanding these regional differences can help you choose a cider that suits your taste preferences.

Alcoholic vs. Non-Alcoholic Ciders

Alcoholic ciders, or hard ciders, have undergone fermentation to convert sugars into alcohol. Non-alcoholic ciders, on the other hand, focus on the natural sweetness and tartness of the apples without the influence of alcohol.

How to Taste and Enjoy Cider

Tips for Tasting Cider

  • Look: Observe the cider’s colour and clarity.
  • Smell: Swirl the cider gently and inhale the aroma.
  • Taste: Take a small sip and let it sit on your tongue to identify the different flavour notes.
  • Evaluate: Consider the balance of sweetness, acidity, and any additional flavours.

Best Practices for Serving Cider

Cider is best served chilled, but not too cold, as excessive cold can mask the flavours. Use a wine glass or a traditional cider glass to fully appreciate the aroma and taste.

Pairing Cider with Food

Cider pairs well with a variety of foods. Sweet ciders complement desserts and spicy dishes, while dry ciders pair well with savoury foods like cheese, pork, and poultry.

Popular Cider Brands and Varieties

There are many well-known cider brands that offer a range of flavours and styles. Brands like Strongbow, Bulmers, and Butford Organics are popular choices. For those looking to explore different palates, there are numerous artisanal ciders available that offer unique and complex flavour profiles.

Health Benefits of Drinking Cider

Nutritional Benefits

Cider contains antioxidants and vitamins found in apples, which can contribute to overall health.

Potential Health Advantages

Moderate consumption of cider has been linked to improved digestion and a boost in immune health due to the presence of beneficial compounds like polyphenols.