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 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.
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.
What do you eat with Spanish cider?
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.
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 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
- Too nervous to pour the cider yourself? You can, honest to god, buy an Asturian cider pouring machine like this one here.
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Disclosure: I travelled to Asturias as a guest of Asturias.es. As always, as ever, I keep the right to write what I like.