Unlike its neighbour Galicia, where grapes are grown and wine is made, Asturias is better known for its apples and its cider. Natural cider is made out of fermented apples without added sugars. It’s usually still, although you can find sparkling cider (both natural and wonderful and industrial and terrible).
The peculiarity of sidra is that you don’t just pour it from the bottle into the glass, but you have to “throw it” from a certain height – about one metre – to get the cider to aerate and develop more flavour.
Also, you won’t get served a full glass which you’ll sip at your content, but rather you’re served a sipful of sidra each time, which you’ll drink in one gulp and maybe leave a little bit at the end which gets throwed away on the ground. Traditionally a glass will be shared among a group of friends – a bit like the tapa sharing culture, but with drinks. Because of this also sidrerías – cider houses – always have a pungent smell of alcohol, like the one you find in wineries.
You can get to know more about sidra visiting the orchards, lagares (where the cider is made) and sidrerías.
Asturian cider has its own D.O.P. (P.D.O. – Protected Designation of Origin) which guarantees, among other things, that the apples are locally sourced – a lot of industrial sidra is made with apples sourced from Galicia, France and Czech Republic.
There are producers of sidra in the Basque Country and in Galicia, but we will talk about that in another post…