Some drinks – wines and cider in particular, have a particularly structured, almost chewy mouth-feel, especially on the finish (the impression you are left with after swallowing the drink). This sensation comes from the tannins, the natural plant compounds found in the apple and extracted in the juice. Most of the tannins are found in the apple peel (the grape skins for wine). And some apple varieties give up more tannins than others.
Some ciders are aged in oak barrels to give a bit of extra wood-spice and tannic structure. Another way to spot a relatively tannic cider is by the slight impression of it drying your mouth at end. That means it will go especially well with rich proteins like meat and strong cheeses – tannins and proteins stand up to each other well, somewhat softening the overall impression.
Treat these ciders as you would those which are rich and powerful, and in particular note that oaky ciders are star picks for smoked food, their wood-spice hints marrying nicely with smokiness, and with also with particularly savoury dishes (ones with umami flavour). Watch out though – the bigger, more tannic, oaky ciders aren’t the ones for delicate dishes and tannins can clash with creamy sauces.