October 8

The Secret to Pouring Spanish Cider in Asturias

Food, Spain

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Pouring Asturian cider means more than just tradition in this northwest part of Spain. It's a feat of daring and dexterity and locals can't wait to get visitors involved. Here's what you need to know about pouring Spanish cider.

Pouring Spanish cider at a sidreria

The bottle...

Pouring Asturian Cider

A slightly sweet, slightly sour scent of apples lingers in the squares of Oviedo in northern Spain. Inside the sidrerias, it doesn't so much linger as call up every one of its friends and invite them to a party.

Sticky cider on the floor, scented cider in wooden barrels and cider, stunt cider, falling from tipped green bottles to fall straight into an outstretched glass.

Or at least, that's what's supposed to happen.

Oviedo Cider Pouring

@Wildjunket tries to pour cider...

Why pour cider from such a great height?

Asturian cider needs aeration and locals have found that the best, and the most fun way to do that is to pour it from a great height.

They've also discovered that it's even more fun to watch hapless foreigners have a go.

In almost every sidreria (the cider houses found across Asturias,) you'll be egged on to have your turn. 

You have to drink fast

The cider, cloudy and sharp rather than sweet, needs lots and lots of air to taste "fresh" and that freshness doesn't last for long.

Drink servings come in small portions and you have to drink fast. Take too long over your Spanish cider and it will go flat: the pouring will have been in vain. 

Pouring Spanish Cider

To actually pour Spanish cider involves a two handed technique. Start with one hand holding a glass, the other a bottle. 

Simultaneously lift the bottle up, the glass down, in a manner reminiscent of a pseudo-Scottish jig at a late night wedding party.

Easy to say, much harder to do, as the sticky floors suggest. 

Where can you find Spanish cider?

You can find cider all across Spain's northern green belt where the apples love to grow. The majority of Spanish cider is produced in Asturias but you can also track some down in the Basque country and neighbouring Galicia.


Tortilla on bread in Spain

Tortilla on bread. No Atkins here.

What do you eat with Spanish cider?

As with most of the rest of Spain, it's unusual to find people drinking without food (although the drinking hours do start early.) It's also very unusual to see people visibly drunk. 

Spanish tortilla, the egg and potato-based dish, often appears, as do some bitter olives and jamon. 

Handy Spanish Phrases for Drinking Cider

How do you say cider in Spanish?

Cider is sidra in Spanish, pronounced a little like SEEdra. 

How do you say pouring in Spanish?

It's verter or decantar as the verb. Vertiendo sidra is pouring cider but in Asturias, you'll hear the word escanciar more often. 

Is there a word for a cider pouring expert?

Indeed, there is. And it's a good one! Escanciador. Sounds like a medieval knight!

What does espalmar mean?

This is talking about the bubbles or froth that forms in the glass after a successful cider pouring.

How about culin?

That's the size of the sip that you're expected to drink in one go. It's a little more than a sip but the sidra is fresh and quite low alcohol so it's not as bad as it sounds!

Ciders of Spain: An In-Cider Job

Well, it took until this point in life to realise that the UK is actually the biggest producer and consumer of cider in the world. 

But Asturias and the Basque country are hot on their apple heels, with 80% of Spain's cider production taking place in Asturias. 


Basque Cider

Like the cider in Asturias, Basque cider needs to be poured from a great height. It's flat, cloudy and produced without yeast from the annual plentiful apple harvest. 

It's called Sagardoa and you'll find it in cider houses called sagardotegi, along with plenty of traditional food. Try the salted cod omelette or the quince jelly and nuts to round off your experience.


Asturian Cider

Asturian cider is decidedly flat and dry, you'll find no carbonated bubbles here. It's also prepared without yeast and follows a similar process to the wine production process. If you get the chance, visit an apple farm and cider producer. It's incredible to walk between mountains of apples and then end the day with a good meal!

So, what's the difference between Basque cider and Asturian cider?

Shh... Questions like this upset people who are passionate about their land! But in truth, they are very similar. However, differences in land, climate and so on lead to different apples and experts are sure that they can taste the difference.

Where can you buy Spanish cider online?

Can't make it across to Spain just now but want to buy some Asturian cider?

Here's a range of ciders and traditional Asturian snacks that you can buy online and deliver to the UK or USA. If you book or buy through these links then we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Cheers!

Buy Asturian Cider Online



 Disclosure: I travelled to Asturias as a guest of Asturias.es. As always, as ever, I keep the right to write what I like. 


Tags

drinks


  • No…a lot of it didn’t end up in the glass. I only wish I’d thought to remove my watch before I started…

  • Marissa Simoes says:

    My family is from Asturias — outside of Asturias — so I grew up watching them do this. And there is nothing like a tortilla with a glass of sidra! Lovely pictures, makes me miss my family’s town.

  • @Marissa – Yes, I glossed over the tortilla a bit. Slightly salty, soft yet crisp – Mmmm! (PS – Can you pour cider like that?)

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