Can a glass change the taste of a cider?
It really does work for wine. The Austrian company, Riedel, make a different shaped glass for each different grape variety, and Iittala, from Finland, brought out a ‘full bodied’ and ‘light bodied’ glass (as well as a red and a white). You see it’s all about the aromas and alcohol, if the glass is too big, you can’t smell nowt, if the glass is too small, all the smell falls out and you’re left with the alcohol. If you want to try it for yourself, you can get such classy glasses from nice shops like Aria.
I’ve tried the glass tasting with wine, and kept wondering if it would work with cider. So I popped into Budgens and picked out two of their wide range of ciders, and then selected a few pieces of my badly mis-matched glassware, for a highly scientific experiment.
I chose a Riedel stemless (harder to break and easier to store) Sauvignon Blanc glass, The Iittala ‘Essence Plus’ Light Bodied glass, a Polish Zyviec glass I got free from a Krakow Alcohole, and a Magners pint glass, bought for me by a friend on a trip to the West Country, made from actual recycled Magners bottles!
Green Goblin 6%, from Thatchers in Somerset
Budgens Vintage Medium Cider 7.2% (made by Westons in Herefordshire)
Try the same cider from all four glasses, checking for differences in taste
First up, Green Goblin in the Essence. The bottle shows a mad goblin dancing at what seems to be his third day at a festival, with a flaming goblet, surrounded by drug-crazed insects and a fairy sniffing his fist. Read into that what you will.
Using this Finnish wine glass for cider, (let’s face it, that’s what the Finns are going to use them for), The Goblin doesn’t smell of much, just a little bit like Tizer. The taste is a kind of warm and a little oaky. I try to get more from it, but fail. I then pour some Goblin into the Riedel glass. Maybe it’s psychological, but it seems a little cooler from this glass, and also sweeter.
The smaller Polish glass gives the Goblin a more bitter, drier taste. Then the Magners glass. The dark pint glass seemed to give a deeper darker taste to the cider, cooling it, but maybe it’s just the cider sense kicking in.
I thought twice about this one, due to the poor design of the label. Not even saying Budgens on it, the standard apple picture and Budgens font appeals more to nanas than to hardened cider dinkers. However, I saw that it was made by Westons, and I wouldn’t fid it in a pub, so it went in the basket. I thought it would be most at home where a nana would keep it, in the cupboard, next to the Horlicks. Beware, as with all nanas, expect the unexpected.
This cider has a much stronger smell and taste. In the Essence glass, the Budgens is like a dusty old barn, dry and oaky. Now, quickly, cos I’m starting to get bored, chuck it into the Riedel. Hmm, a mild but slightly clinical smell, a little more bitter taste. Then into the piwo (that’s Polish for beer) glass. Mmm, nice woody smell, and finally, the Magners glass.
-Aaah, the big dark glass makes the cider a deep, cool flavour like licking a big old steam engine. Now I know why it’s marketed at nanas, this is nostalgic stuff.
Glass testing with cider is not as effective as with wine. Maybe I was trying too hard to find differences in the taste, but the glass that felt the best was the big one. So, to summarise, don’t bother. Stick to the pint size. As the nostalgic haze fades, I realise the main result of the glass tasting is lots of washing up.