Learning to taste the complexity of cider

Learning to taste the complexity of cider

Gabe Cook, ciderologist, gave a master class in cider varieties and flavour profiles in Nelson at NMIT.
Abe teaching the class

NMIT Hospitality students have now joined an elite group in New Zealand with knowledge in different cider flavour profiles according to Gabe Cook(external link). He told the group, "You are now ahead of the game with this level of understanding."

Gabe explained how ciders are just as complex a group as craft beer or wine but the knowledge is just not there yet amongst the general public and hospitality staff.

tasting cider

He described how old world ciders, like those from traditional English cider making areas, rely on apples high in tannins to develop flavour and colour - much like red wine. These ciders usually have a deep gold colour. With their aromatic qualities it is better to keep them at 10-13C to be able to fully appreciate the flavour. Ciders made with apples high in tannins mature well with the tannins softening over time.

Other ciders, like those from Spain or New Zealand, rely more on the acidity of an apple to balance the flavour. This is the majority of ciders made around the world today.

These ciders are better served chilled to 5C and are lighter in colour. Ciders that are acid dominant don't benefit from maturing and a best drunk soon after they are produced.

variety of ciders

Gabe discussed ciders had different flavour profiles for different occasions and taste.

"It all depends on the apple variety and the cider making process and what the cider maker was wanting to achieve," he said.

Gabe described how important it was to think about all aspects of the flavour profile in keeping with the character and expectation of the cider.

The students tasted several different cider varieties. One cider was 10%ALC. Gabe pointed out while this felt high for a cider, it was low for a wine. This particular cider shared a similar flavour profile to wine so would be better sipped and enjoyed much like a wine, rather than a summertime thirst quencher like the light coloured, new world cider tasted.

Gabe shared his dream of the future when hospitality staff and bars would be able to offer different ciders matched to the occasion and a person's taste preferences just like happens today for wine or craft beer.

The students will be putting their new knowledge into practise for a not to be missed cider degustation dinner(external link) at the Rata Room.

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