The basic cider making process in a simple one : crush and press apples to make fresh cider, then ferment the fresh cider to turn the sugars in alcohol. But like many things in life to do something well you need to focus at a whole other layer of detail.  Some of those cider making details are shared with wine making : protecting the cider from oxygen exposure, careful sanitation and the selection of high quality ingredients.  There are also some unique to cider like the selection of the blend of apple variants or specialized techniques like "keeving".   When selecting the apple variants a cider-maker factors in 4 main variables to get the overall desired effect

  • Sweetness – sets the alcohol content
  • Acidity – important to balance the residual sugars and alcohol and give the cider longer cellar life
  • Astringency – similar to red wine to create character and balance as the cider matures
  • Aromatics & taste – distinctive taste notes to the cider

A given apple variety often provides 2 or 3 of these desired aspects.  For example Empire apples are sweet and have an interesting taste profile, but would need other varieties to drive the required acidity and astringency – something like wild apples or crab apples.  The complexity of the interactions the between the many possible apple cultivars is significant. As a result blending is an essential skill for all good cider-makers.

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