This evening, people will be walking into bars, pubs, restaurants and bottle shops in the quest for a glass (or bottle, depending on the day) of wine. Many of them will be sure in advance of stepping over the threshold of what it is they a looking for. Some will be looking for a buttery Chardonnay, some a rich merlot, others a spicy Shiraz. All distinct wines from grapes known for their distinctive characteristics, flavour profiles and even regions where they are grown. Each conjure up their characteristic food matching profiles, and it's quite a common practice to choose wines to match food choices, and even, to match food to the type of wine the consumer is looking to enjoy. But who would ever think of doing the same for a cider?
Quite often people when we think of cider will consider something made from generic apples. The concept of them being bittersweet, bitter sharp, dessert (sweet or sharp), or even being an ingredient of cider can be a little strange. Another thing which is overlooked by people is the significance of growing conditions. As a wine can be hugely influenced by soils, climates, altitudes, water types, weather, this also applies to Cider. Of course an English wine will taste very different to an Australian one, and similarly, an English Cider will taste very different to a Australian one. However, the concept can seem a little new, particularly to most who enjoy a drink, at first. Also, simple facts such as the number of apples which go into a single a bottle of Cider can also seem a little new. How about the variety of yeasts used ( natural, wine, cider or champagne yeasts [or even beer yeasts as sometimes used in the US])? These can all influence flavours.
Whilst we are not advocating an in depth knowledge of Cider, all the factors influencing it and its flavours as a particularly useful way for a beginner into Cider to develop an understanding, a few questions and a bit of an interest into the Ciders you sample, over time can help to be a more educated consumer and help you to identify the types you enjoy. Over time, ( and as with wine) a little curiosity as to what you are drinking can in the longterm really reap great rewards in finding a drink choice that hits what you are in the mood for each time.
To wrap things up, invest a little time in being curious as to what you are drinking. Learn what you like, what doesn’t really appeal to your taste, and trust us, over time, you will be glad! Finally, just remember, with Cider ( as with so many things in life) we are all experts. We know what we like and what we don’t like. After all, even Cinderella had to kiss a few frogs to find Prince Charming!