Everything you need to know to find that perfect bottle of Artisan Cider, inspired by the article ‘five ways to spot a good wine’.

When you are choosing a cider to take home, before you even buy a cider there are a number of ways to spot a great real cider. We hope these tips can help you explore the world of cider, and make a better judgement of a cider when you are buying from a supermarket, farm shop, or direct from the producer.

The Label

The label of a cider bottle

The label of a cider bottle – all looking good!

More people that care about what they drink look at the label very carefully. Producers know this, and write carefully crafted copy that usually creates visions of autumnal orchards at harvest time.

Look for the following when reading the label:

  • Made from 100% pressed apples
  • No artificial colours, sweeteners, flavourings
  • Uses local apples to producer
  • “Vintage” – apples pressed from single years harvest
  • Place of production – Somerset, Herefordshire, Devon are the traditional counties where cider has been produced for hundreds of years
  • Conditioned (sparkling) or still – either is great. Sparkling usually more refreshing, but still easier to drink
  • Preservative – sulphites are used to preserve the cider so it lasts longer on the shop shelves

The Strength

Real ciders are usually between 5-8% ABV. The strength of alcohol varies between the apple varieties, blends of apples once fermenting, and the length of the fermentation before bottling.

What do you want the ciders for? For food, or a night in front of the TV, you may want a medium strength 6-7% cider, but if you are drinking them all night with friends you may want only a 4-5% cider.

Ciders are not usually more than 9% as the producer has to pay a higher tax duty on the volume of cider produced.

The Price

£2-3 per bottle for a real cider. Some cider makers are charging more due to longer production and fermentation methods.

The Colour

The colour of a real cider

The colour of a real cider – mmm!

The colour of ciders vary depending on the choice of apples, from pale yellow to clear honey brown. However, an amber colour is generally representative of a well balanced, traditional cider.

The colour indicates the levels of tannins in the apples that were pressed. The deeper the colour, the more tannins, and the more of a ‘bite’ you get when you taste it.

The Smell

When you open a bottle of cider, close your eyes, swirl and sniff the cider in a glass, and you should be reminded of a cider barn, or farmyard odour. This is not a bad thing at all!

The Taste

The best bit! All ciders should be served lightly chilled, if they are very cold, then you will not enjoy the full aroma and taste that a real cider has to offer.

Let the liquid move around your tongue.  Use your taste buds to figure out how many different flavors you can pick up on. As long as it’s in balance and isn’t putrid-smelling, the more you can taste the more complex the cider.

Flavours and feelings that you may taste in a real cider: Oak, citrus, tart, crisp, refreshing, lingering after taste, all round flavour sensation!


Tasting a real cider

Tasting a real cider – at last!

If you buy the cider again, chances are you like it. When you find one you like, remember it, and try the other single or blended ciders from the same producers to explore the differences in the apples.

It’s that simple, always being mindful of the apples types that you prefer.

Take time to try new varietals from regions all around the world and find your own personal style.

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