In my view, great cider must have the same characteristics of great wine or great beer. It must possess a balance of its most vital components: sugar, acid, tannin. It must possess a clarity of flavor and aroma. It must possess a complex set of layered aromas and flavors. And importantly, the cider must make me think and wonder.
I admit this latter criteria may seem a bit…abstract. It is. Yet, in my experience great alimentary and drinking experiences stop us and make us wonder why the experience is so compelling and intriguing. It makes us think of the origins and process and inspirations. It provides of with fodder for further exploration.
The reviews you read here will try to explain what I taste by briefly describing flavors, body, appearance, aroma and more. Additionally, they will include thoughts on the meaning of the cider, how it strikes me, why I like it or why I don’t.
The ratings I place on each wine are symbols that represent the relative quality of the beverage and should communicate the following:
* = a poorly composed and uninteresting cider
* * = Average in most every respect, but not offensive
* * * = Well made cider that intrigues and is interesting
* * * * = Outstanding cider that is beautifully composed
* * * * * = A great creation and among the finest ciders made. To be celebrated.
I should note, mine is actually a 9 Star rating scale, not 5, since I will sometimes be inspired to rate a cider in between a set station on the scale in this way: * */ * * * . This would be expressed as 2.5 or two and a half stars.
It would not be accurate to say that a cider I rate with five stars is perfect. In my view there is no place for the idea perfection when judging the components of cider, wine, beer or any art or craft. However, I would say that a five-star cider possesses and expresses the idea of beauty. In this respect, I am a Platonist. The idea of beauty, where cider is concerned, asks us to imagine the essence of the apple and its home expressed through the lens of its maker and his cider. A five star cider will be beautiful because in some way its maker was able to produce something that beautifully expresses the essence of its apples and its home.