Cider Question: How long should you age cider?

Is there an ideal amount of time to age cider? Ultimately, there is no one single right answer to the question of how long you should age cider. That is because it depends on the cider and the conditions under which it will age. The maturation or aging of cider, like wine, will allow it to evolve. There are many different compounds that can form and these are impacted by the compounds in your cider as well as various reactions that might occur. These include tannins, lipids, esters, proteins, oxygen, autolysis, and malolactic fermentation to names a few.

There are a couple key things to remember about the aging of cider.

  • Unless you stabilize your cider with preservatives like sulfite or pasteurize it, it will continue to evolve and even stabilizing it may only delay or slow the evolution.
  • Aging cider decreases the berry and red fruit aromas ( strawberry, raspberry, and such). These esters are volatile and generally not stable. The longer a cider ages, the fewer of these remain.
  • Aging cider will increase the polymerization of tannins. This means the astringency of your cider will increase.
  • Aging cider generally decreases its acidity. Acids are broken down by various reactions including malolactic fermentation (MLF). Natural malolactic fermentation (MLF) often requires the breakdown and release of certain compounds that take time to form.
  • There is not an expiration date on how long you can age cider. Many ciders are successfully aged for years. Just remember that the evolution continues.
  • Oxygen can add or harm the aging process. But, it’s usually better to avoid it as it can create vegetal, sulfur, and acetic characteristics.

Here is a quick guide to help you decide based on key characteristics of your cider. Ultimately, if you enjoy the taste of a cider, start drinking it because it will continue to evolve.

Cider CharacteristicAging Time
High Acidity>8 Months
High Tannins>8 Months
Fruity Aromas<4 Months
Cloudy/Hazy>8 Months
Aging Guide for Cider Based on Characteristics

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