Cider Tasting Party

February 22, 2010

I have been reading up on having a cider tasting party with my friends this last weekend, but I unfortunately had to postpone it because it ended up being a busy weekend for people. However, we did have one couple come over and sample some of the easier to find ciders, including:

Mostly, I had been reading Ben Watson’s Cider: Hard and Sweet: History, Traditions & Making Your Own, 2nd Edition and Annie Proulx and Lew Nichol’s Cider: Making, Using & Enjoying Sweet & Hard Cider. From it, I took away these lessons for hosting:

  • The more guests you have, the more lively it will be.
  • Limit cider tastings to 12 to 15 at the most, but try to mix up the varieties. Do some sweet, some dry, some sparkling, some still, some made from only one kind of apple, and some made from a blend of apples. Admittedly, I did one cider per person, with more available if people wanted some.
  • Use clean transparent glasses or cups when tasting to allow people to evaluate the appearance of the cider. Glass is preferred since it will not affect the flavor of the cider. Wine glasses make for excellent cider tasting glasses, allowing the drinker to smell the cider better.
  • Have food available, such as bread, vegetables, pâté, some other spread, and cheese. Spreads should not have garlic that will make everything you taste taste like garlic. The cheese should not be overly strong as to overpower the cider. Cheeses that will go well with cider would also go well with apples, such as a mild cheddar, Camembert, Brie, Gouda, or Gruyère.
  • Blind tastings are the best and fairest way to taste cider so that one does not throw the tasting towards a cider they like, or chose one they like based on a label.
  • While you can serve the ciders in any order, it is suggested that the lower alcohol ciders are served before the higher alcohol ciders, and the dry cider before sweet cider.
  • The sweeter the cider, the colder it should be.
  • Have the tasters rate the cider on a scale of 1 to 10. At the end of the tasting, add up the scores and reveal the winner before guests leave. Watson commented in his book, “In my experience, the ciders that tend to score the highest are well-balanced ones that appeal broadly to the entire group of tasters, but that do not necessarily have the most character or ‘personality’” (p 103).
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