Tasting can be a lot of fun. Enjoying a great cider, fruit wine or mead with friends over a meal, or just on its own is a great experience to share. That being said, there are also times when you want to evaluate a beverage from a more critical standpoint. This is when a few tasting tips will come in handy.
1) Don’t be fooled by the price. Just because it is more expensive does not mean it is better. In fact one of the largest costs a producer has is packaging. A good cider, fruit wine or mead is simply one that you enjoy.
2) Beverage alcohol, by its nature, creates a very personal experience based on many factors. It is as much chemistry with your body as it is quality. Craft creations will always taste better when you are having a good time.
3) Craft Beverage aromas and flavours are affected by the foods you eat with them. A basic rule in pairing food is to pick foods that do not overpower your beverage and beverages that does not overpower your food.
4) Complimentary flavours work well, so the trick is to experiment. If you are considering showing off a cider, fruit wine or mead with friends, take the time to try a few food combinations to find ones you think best bring out the aromas and flavours.
5) Tasting is a sensory experience. Use your senses. Sight, smell, taste and touch, allow anybody, regardless of skill or experience, to enjoy tasting.
6) Not all cider, fruit wine or mead is sweet. Like wine, they can be made dry or sweet, and anything in between depending on style. If you have a preference, talk to the producer before you taste. Not all styles are for everyone.
7) Not all cider tastes like apples. In fact a well made dry sparkling cider can taste more like sparkling wine. And of course there are a lot of blended ciders that have a variety of fruit and other flavours.
8) Although many prefer their beverages chilled, you do not need to chill cider, fruit wine or mead. A well made beverage will taste as good or better at room temperature. This is because flavours and aromas are closed in when chilled. Additionally, chilled liquids temporarily dull your taste buds.
The big advantage to chilling is that a carbonated creation will hold its bubbles longer when it is cold. So my advice is to start chilled, then allow your beverage to come up to room temperature as you enjoy it so you can experience all of the flavours and aromas that is has to offer.
Ciders, fruit wines and meads can be simple and straight forward or amazingly complex. So relax and enjoy.