Cider Glossary

Acetaldehyde – Is the oxidation of alcohol by alcohol dehydrogenase due to poor storage. Gives off powerful aromas of green apples.

ACIDS – Sour-tasting, or ‘sharp’ substances found in apples. Acids give a refreshing sourness, bright flavor, & a keen, mouth-watering “feel’. To ferment cleanly, raw cider juice needs a strong acid content.

Apfelwein – Is the German term for cider

Balance – Is where a cider is in equal harmony with its critical components. Such as: sweetness, acidity, tannin and alcohol

Bead – Is the streams of bubbles present in a glass of cider once the mousse has dissipated

Bittersharps – A class of cider apple varieties valued for high tannin content & high acid content.

Bittersweets –  A class of cider apple varieties valued for high tannin content & high sugar content.

Blending – Is a process where differing ciders of differing characters are skilfully combined to create a perfectly balanced and consistent product

Brettanomyces – A yeast derived fault smelling like band aids or leather. Poor hygiene, old oak or MLF derived. Can be considered very desirable in farmhouse styles

Brittany – Is a French Cider region known to produce fruity, low alcoholic, keeved farmhouse ciders. Areas of Cornouaille and Fouesnant are notable apple growing regions

Brut – Is the French term for dry

Carbonation – Bubbles in cider by means of bottle fermentation or artificial addition

Cider Apples – apple varieties that produce superior juice for fermenting. Like wine grapes, cider apples often taste bad. They can be super-bitter, super-sour, sickly-sweet, dry soft or any combination of the above.

Cidre – Is the French term for cider

Cidre Bouche – A French sparkling cider under cork and hood, usually in a 750mL bottle

Citric Acid – The main acid component found in pears

Complexity – A cider with primary, secondary, and even tertiary components. An intricate array of flavours and aromas both fruit and cider making derived

Concentrate – Apple juice which has been dehydrated to form a thick and sweet apple solution. Blended with water and fermented to make cider

Dessert Apples – Larger eating apples which have higher acidity but lack astringency. Makes good, but simple cider

Doux – Is the French term for sweet

Draught – A clean cider which is dry and usually served on tap

Dry – A cider or perry which has no sweetness

Farmhouse – Very rustic and authentic ciders made using wild yeasts and oak. Made in France and England for hundreds of years. Very unique taste

Fermentation – Is the process where yeast convert sugars to alcohol, can be in tank or oak

Filtration – A process where the cider has all solids, yeasts and hazes removed to make a clear and brilliant product

Flavoured Cider – Ciders made from fruit concentrates which are super sweet and low in alcohol

Keeving – A scientific process where enzymes and pectin in apples form a complexation with nutrients in the juice to form a chapteau brun. The juice underneath is low in nutrients resulting in a slow ferment perfect for making fruity, clear, low alcohol, sweet and naturally carbonation cider without filtration.

Malic Acid – Is the main acid component in apples

Methode Traditionelle – A complex and very labour intensive process of producing a cider with natural carbonation, no yeast less and some sweetness. Often higher in alcohol with a ferocious mousse

Milling – Shredding the apples reading for pressing

MLF – Is the decarboxylation of malic acid to lactic acid. Helps with lowering acidity and microbial stability. Also adds buttery characters to a cider

Mousse – Is the foamy head in the glass once a cider is poured

Normandy – A very famous French region. Calvados in Normandy has appellations of: Calvados Pays de Auge, Calvados, Calvados Domfrontais. Produces light, fresh ciders, along with traditional farmhouse styles.

Oak – Wooden barrels used to ferment or age a cider. Can be up to 100 years old

Pasteurisation – A process where cider is heated up to high temperatures to kill dangerous bacteria and prolong shelf life

Perry – Is an alcoholic beverage made out of pears. Commonly known as pear cider

Pommace – Milled apples ready for pressing

Pressing – A process where pressure is applied to the pommace to extract juice. Can be done through basket press, rack and cloth press or membrane press with differing volumes of yield extraction

Racking – Removing clear cider off yeast cake or lees to help slow fermentation

Reductive – A character derived by nutrient deficient yeast where aromas of hydrogen sulphite, or rotten egg gas are evident. Very unpleasant in high doses

Ropiness- Is the growth of lactic acid bacteria in low acidic and low sulphur dioxide ciders which form long polysaccharide gels. An oily texture and thick consistency is produced

Scrumpy – A very traditional cider which is high in alcohol, high in solids and often left to its own devices. Not for the faint hearted

Sharps – Apple varieties grown for high acid alone

Sidra – Is the Spanish term for cider

Sidro – Is the Italian term for cider

Spain – A cider producing country. Regions consist of Asturias and Basque Country. Ciders from Spain are often high in volatile acidity and higher in structural acidity. Very traditional cider

Sulphur Dioxide – A preservative added to cider to maintain freshness and protect from spoilage

Sugars – Sweet-tasting substances found in apples. Yeast ferments natural fruit sugars into alcohol.

Sweets – Apple varieties grown for high sugar alone

TANNINS: bitter, astringent substances found in some apples. They give bitterness & complex, earthly flavors, plus drying, tautening, & body in the “mouthfeel”. They can be derived from the apples or from the oak aging process.

Vintage  – A premium cider made from the current years best apples. Often oak aged and bolder in style.

Volatile Acidity – Can come in the form of ethyl acetate which smells like nail polish remover, or acetic acid which smells like vinegar. Popular in Spanish cider from Asturias, but can be considered a huge fault in other countries. It is formed by bacteria like acetobacter or lactic acid bacteria by poor cider making practices. Often seen in perry’s due to the metabolism of citric acid by lactic acid bacteria.

TANNINS: bitter, astringent substances found in some apples. They give bitterness & complex, earthly flavors, plus drying, tautening, & body in the “mouthfeel”.

A big thanks to James Adams at for allowing me to share the majourity of these glossary terms from his site. If you want to learn a little more about Australian cider or on how a proper cider review site should look, please look up All About Cider. Thanks James!

6 responses to “Cider Glossary

  1. Hi, I was wondering if i could use your Cider Glossary In a book. My name is David and i work for Blue Ridge Wine Tours, and we are putting together a book on breweries and cider houses in the central Virginia area and would like to use your glossary in the book.

    Thanks, David

  2. Hi David,
    I borrowed this from my friend James Adams at You could always ask him for permission. Or if you like I could provide you a more complete glossary – pending you give me a shout out! haha…

    email me at Alex AT and we can arrange soemthing.



    • Thanks for the note. As you mentioned, you are 100% correct that pear cider is not perry.

      I pulled this glossary from my friend James at as mentioned at the bottom. To be honest, I didn’t catch it when I read it. I’ll make the amendment soon.

      Thanks for keeping me on my toes.



  3. Thanks for an interesting site . Just one minor clarification from a European view.
    Draught should mean served from a cask or keg by gravity, hand pump (or as a last resort ) gas pressure. If it’s in a bottle or can it isn’t draught, whatever the advertiser say! Your local Campaign for Real Ale branch in Vancouver will also use this definition.

    Neil Kearns, Hampshire

    • Thanks for the comment Neil.

      In a European view, you’d be correct on a draught style. However, in North America a draught style (pub sytle) cider is a kent-ish cider made of desert apples. Little to no bitters and served cold. . Also in North America this type of cider is served by tap under gas pressure. This isn’t a formal style so to speak, but more of general descriptor for this type of cider

      On a side note; I’ve done much work with CAMRA Vancouver and developed their education class for Cider.

      Thanks for stopping by.



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