Jane Peyton, drinks consultant and founder of Beer Day Britain, swapped beer for cider earlier this week when The Beer & Cider Academy accredited her as the UK’s first pommelier. Susanna Forbes caught up with her to find out her thoughts on cider and the importance of the pommelier system
What does it mean now that you have this qualification?
Cider is as diverse as wine is and staff should be trained in cider knowledge. Educated staff are more effective staff. This will open up a conversation about what a pommelier accreditation is and why a person should have one.
What was it like to train and study for this qualification?
The discovery of cider being so diverse in styles, aromatics and flavours was fascinating. Tasting how the fruit has such an impact on acidity, tannins and mouthfeel was enlightening.
What was the trickiest part of the studying?
Blind tasting and identifying different sub-sectors of the families of cider when there are similarities. For instance, is that a West Country phenolic cider with the holy trinity of tannins, acidity and sweetness, or is it a French phenolic cider with tannins, acidity and sweetness achieved through the keeving method?
What was the most surprising part?
Learning that a drink can legally be called cider even with a minimum juice content of 35%. I don’t think it is fair on the makers that commit to 100% fresh apple juice being categorised as making the same product as a water-diluted product with minimum juice concentrate.
What was the subject of the cider and food menu you presented as part of your assessment?
I used the menu from the state banquet for former French president Nicholas Sarkozy when he was hosted by the Queen at Windsor Castle. I included the grape wines that were served and gave cider and perry matches to show that, in 100% juice formats, they are apple and pear wine that absolutely deserve to be on the dining table.
How can Imbibe readers get involved?
Explore the amazing variety of ciders by tasting them – it’s such an eye-opener. I recommend that anyone who is interested in or works in the drinks business takes as many training courses that they can.
Would you advocate taking part in harvest?
Yes! Out in the orchard, panking the trees [shaking branches with a long pole] to make the apples drop, hand-selecting them, then later on pressing the fruit is a reminder that cider is a natural drink that starts with an apple growing on a tree.
What do you think cider offers restaurants that they might not have thought about?
As cider is akin to wine in the tools it has for matching with food – acidity, tannins, sweetness –it deserves to be on a dining table.
Photography by Susanna Forbes
The Beer & Cider Academy accredited the UK’s first pommeliers – or ‘cider sommeliers’ – earlier in the week, as part of a drive to elevate the status of cider and put it on a par with wine or high-quality beer.