Sensory descriptive analysis of hard ciders from the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic United States


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Although alcoholic or “hard” cider is a beverage of growing popularity throughout the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic United States (US), the industry lacks a consistent language for describing the sensory quality of its products. The main objective of this research was to explore the sensory attributes that can be used to describe a large representative sample (N = 42 samples) of ciders from Virginia, Vermont, and New York, using classical descriptive analysis (DA). The secondary objective of the research was to determine if cider samples’ sensory attributes differ based on extrinsic factors, such as style, packaging, and apple varieties. The study was conducted using a standard DA: 8 panelists were trained for 13 h to develop a lexicon of aroma, taste, and mouthfeel descriptors for 42 cider samples (15 single varietal ciders, 27 blended ciders). Then, subjects evaluated each cider in duplicate for all descriptive attributes in standard sensory-evaluation conditions. Results were analyzed to determine overall differences among the individual cider samples, geographic origins, cider styles, and packaging formats, as well as significant differences across individual attributes. Herein, we report on 29 attributes that can be used to discriminate cider samples, as well as a subset of attributes which differentiate ciders based on extrinsic product variables. These results provide a framework for describing ciders from the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the US, which may be further generalizable to other North American ciders. As well, these results highlight the potential for more descriptive, sensory-based style guidelines may inspire future research related to cider production practices and terroir.



descriptive analysis, fermentation, multivariate analysis, sensory, sensory and consumer sciences