CiderWorld’21 Award – recap

The jury tasting of CiderWorld’21 Award was four weeks ago, the lucky winners were already announced so I owe you a brief recap of this event that happened in the course of the Covid-19 pandemic. Just a refresher in case you have never heard of CiderWorld before, it is an international and one of the most renowned cider competition taking place annually in Frankfurt, Germany and organized by Michael Stöckl and Christine Isensee-Kiesau. I also happen to be the ambassador of this event.

As you may already assume, also this year I was sitting on the jury panel of CiderWorld’21 Award. The jury tasting took place on 21st of June 2021, and in contrast to previous years, in a very cosy and typical for Frankfurt Apfelwein restaurant called “Zum lahmen Esel”. This is due to the fact that this location had big enough premises to keep a safe distance between the judges. Another safety measure was that everyone had to present a negative Covid test before entering the premises.

While the inside of the restaurant looked really cool, we were seated in a place that resembled rather a school classroom than a restaurant. This somehow deprived this competition of the previous Apfelwein atmosphere that was present when judging at Daheim im Lorsbacher Tal in previous years. The Covid-19 is obviously all to blame.

Instead of explaining the flow of how the judging happened like I did in the past years (if interested click here), I’d like to share with you my thoughts re. CiderWorld’21 Award.

This year, I was in a group of three judges, in contrast to me, my fellow judges came from the wine world, which can be regarded as an upside but also as a downside in a way. You may say that cider is wine but when it comes to evaluating both I don’t think that same features can be evaluated for both beverages in the same way. Usually, good wines have no faults, no off-notes unless they are natural wines. With ciders, this applies only if they are made with selected wine yeasts, which is often not the case. And, when you look at the categories of Cider World: still cider, sparkling cider, mixed & flavored cider, ice-cider, etc. there is none dedicated to still cider wildly fermented or still cider made with selected wine yeast. So when my fellow-colleagues evaluated wildly fermented ciders, they were often deducting points due to faults, which to me weren’t any faults but simply belonged to cider and added complexity to it. Because of this, none of the nearly 20 evaluated ciders by my judging group received Gold. Last year, when there were more cider related judges on my judging panel, the situation was quite the opposite, we were quite generous with the prizes as only several ended up without receiving any medal.

Looks that CiderWorld’ Award is going digital as instead of filling the evaluating sheets on a paper, my group of judges was asked to put all points in an app that was specially developed for this competition. I thought it was really a step into the future as it really facilitated all the counting of points a lot, not to mention that it minimized the risk of errors in counting. And, I’m sure it helped the organizers with identifying the winners. So bravo for this step!

Another comment I’d like to make is the way the judges dressed for the competition. Almost everyone with a few exceptions was wearing rather very causal clothes, not even business casual. Actually, I got used to that as I didn’t really have a reference before. However, when I went to the Polish wine competition Polskie Korki that took place in Poznan, Poland last weekend, I’ve noticed that everyone on the jury panel was wearing business casual. And, although myself I obviously prefer wearing comfortable clothes I think that what the wine judges had on showed their respect to wine and made wine elegant and noble this way. Maybe we should also start respecting cider and make it elegant in a similar way?

Summarising, to me CiderWorld Award has always been a fantastic experience and it hasn’t changed. This is always a great networking opportunity to meet up with cider colleagues (although this year due to pandemic only with those from Germany) and to sample a number of ciders from literally around the globe. I hope that next year it will possible to return to the classical format of CiderWorld Award’21 and CiderWorld and meet face to face with cidermakers and ciderlovers. As CiderWorld is not only a cider competition but also an opportunity to try multiple ciders and see how different and fascinating a cider can be.

For the full list of winners of this years Cider World’21 Award, check out the link below.

I also recommend that you take part in CiderWorld’21, which due to Covid-19 will this year take place also virtually. Already looking forward to it!