Publishing mogul Dave Selden has recently introduced a new ratings guide in the "33" series that is near and dear to my heart: Cider. This is not merely because I have lately turned my attention appleward, but because of two elements included in 33 Mugs of Cider that I think will do a great deal to educate drinkers. Here, have a look:
That flavor wheel there on the right has cider-specific terms like tannic and acidic (and also "sweet," the third of the holy trinity,
though sweetness is obviously not unique to cider). If you've ever had
an English or French farmhouse cider you know tannins; if you've
dabbled in the lambiclike Basque ciders, you know acid. (Boy, do you
know acid.) This will be a handy reminder to observe the structure of
cider as you taste it.
The second cool feature is to the left of the wheel (you can see it if
you click on the pic): the "bubble meter." This is a clever way of
illustrating another important dimension to cider. They may be wholly
still, like most wines, or as bubbly as champagne. Since a lot of beery
types are checking out ciders, this is a good reminder that not all
ciders have those 2.5 volumes of beer you're used to encountering.
You can pick up copies at the website.
Bonus. As with most of these (solid-product cigars a notable
exception), Dave added a bit of cider to his ink, so if you're really
desperate, give it a lick.
Update, May 23, 2014. I carried these books around with me on my travels as I did research for Cider Made Simple, and they were a huge asset in keeping track of what I'd tasted.