How to Taste Cider
When considering nuances of flavor in both cannabis and cider, understanding the basic tasting techniques is key in maximizing your understanding of the distinct flavors in cannabis and cider. To help you make the most of upcoming World Cider Day (June 3), we’ve teamed up with two experts to teach us the basics of tasting both cider and cannabis. Below, Certified Cicerone Jessie Birschbach outlines the nuances of tasting ciders, and cannabis educator Rachel Burkons walks through a simple three-step tasting method that will take your flower tastings to the next level. Read about these techniques below, and tune in for our World Cider Day celebrations on Instagram Live!
How to Taste Cider
With Jessie Birschbach, Certified Cicerone
In my experience tasting ciders I’ve found that using a combination of the approaches used to assess beer and sparkling wine work best. And, like beer and wine tastings, the first thing to consider is temperature. With cider, we first consider the cider’s acid, body, tannin, and weight to determine the ideal serving temp. According to American Cider by Dan Pucci and Craig Cavallo, this roughly divides into:
- Ciders light in body, light in tannin made from eating apples: 42-50 degrees F
- Ciders with more body and texture, usually a mix of more tannic varieties of apples with eating apples, usually above 7% abv: 48 to 55 degrees F
- Ciders with majority tannic varieties, typically European varieties: 50 to 60 degrees F
Once you’ve ensured proper temp, here is a topline way to assess its profile:
- Note the cider’s appearance.
- Get that nose in there and take a few short quick sniffs at different distances within the glass.
- After you’ve assessed the cider’s aromas, take your first sip, let the cider linger to note mouthfeel, then swallow. I recommend keeping your mouth closed to take advantage of the retronasal perception that occurs in the back of the throat between the mouth and the nose. This is especially important for aftertaste.
Cider components to consider:
- Fruit profile
- Dry to Sweet
- Secondary flavors and aromas
How to Taste Cannabis
With Rachel Burkons, AKA @SmokeSipSavor
There’s a basic three-step tasting method you can use when tasting cannabis. This method works with either a joint or a pipe, but if you are using a pipe, make sure it is immaculately clean before beginning.
Step One: Nose It
The first step in tasting anything is smelling it, so the first step in understanding what a cannabis cultivar will taste like is to nose the aromatics of the flower. Open your jar, stick your nose in, and inhale deeply; flavor notes like citrus, spice, herbs, and cannabis’ signature skunk will jump out at you.
Step Two: Terpene Pull
Once you know what your cannabis smells like, you can bring that flavor on to the palate using what’s called a terpene, or dry pull. Without lighting it, bring the joint or your pipe to your mouth and inhale through it. This will bring the flavor of the flower directly onto your palate, where you’ll be able to tease out more nuanced tasting notes. What appeared as “sweet” on the nose may deepen to caramel and cream, or “tropical” becomes mango or papaya. This is the clearest and most pronounced expression of flavor you’ll get with tasting cannabis.
Step Three: Light It!
I like to use a hemp wick to avoid butane interfering with the flavor profile. As you light your bowl or joint, the first draw will bring that variety’s smoke profile onto your palate. Focus on the weight of the smoke, the smoothness, acidity, and flavor. As you exhale, examine the thickness and color of the smoke, and to complete your tasting, also take note of the variety’s effect; is it heady and stoney, or bright and invigorating? How does it make you feel?
If you’re looking to grow your cannabis knowledge, keeping track of all of these notes in a journal will help you better understand your preferences and remember what you like in the future.