The ciders of Asturias, Spain!!!

So something new in my blog but very old in my life. Looking at other of my “friends contacts” in wordpress I read about wines of Asturias, and thought of something. I know the people from there since birth as having families from Oviedo who lived in my native town , and my grandparents gave us a taste. Of what? where it was not wines first but ciders! Let me tell you a bit on this story. Hope you enjoy it as I

The Cider in Spain is primarily from the Asturias and Basque regions of northern Spain and is produced primarily from wild apple, with sweeter varieties of apple used to balance the end result. At the time of the pilgrimage, in the 12C or so, cider was more popular than wine.

One of the most characteristic fruits of Asturias is the apple, where there are more than 500 types, and it constitutes the essence of cider. This production process begins in spring with the flowering of the apple tree, a spectacle to be seen in the orchards ,a group of apple trees , and continues in the winery or ‘llagar’ in Asturian, where it is transformed into cider. In Asturias, more than 45 million liters of cider are produced, distributed among the 80 wineries in the region, located mainly in Gijón, Villaviciosa, Nava and Siero.

The Asturian cider has the uniqueness that it is the only one that is poured in the world It is the act of serving the cider by pouring it with the upright arm, taking the bottle with the right hand and the glass with the left, with the thumb and forefinger. surrounding the glass and the heart in the background. After adopting this position, the cider falls from a considerable height abruptly and back , that is, it breaks into a foam when it hits the edge of the glass. Adequate oxygenation   is ensured and the cider ready to drink in one gulp or ‘culin’, as it is said in slang. In addition, the entire content of the glass is not drunk, but a little is left to clean where it has been drunk, since in natural cider the glass is shared. A show of technique and tradition.

The types of ciders are: The Traditinal natural cider, the New Expression natural cider that does not need pouring and is stabilised. The sparkling cider, the sweet or duernu cider, the ecological or bio cider, the ice cider, and the cider brut.

The ciders of Asturias webpage: https://sidradeasturias.es/en/

It will be in 1888 when the brothers Alberto and Eladio del Valle, financed by Bernardo de la Ballina and Ángel Fernández, acquire the necessary machinery to start the “champagne making” of cider in the Villaviciosa County area of Asturias.  A year later, on May 24, 1890, the Valle, Ballina and Fernández company started up. This is the beginning of a long and fruitful history: that of El Gaitero cider, which began with resounding success both in the Peninsula and in America.  And this is the brand we drink at home since birth, my grandparents started giving us this one and we continue the tradition with my parents and then I and my sons. Sidra El Gaitero is it; simply the best! See their story in English on the official webpage: https://www.sidraelgaitero.com/en/home/

asturias sidra el gaitero villaviciosa sep17

For info, if you cannot go to Asturias, and do stop by Madrid, then the best there to recommend is the Casa Mingo. If you read my post this house was founded by railroad workers from Asturias who came to work in Madrid and could not be without their cider and local food. This is Casa Mingo and they have a production on site under Sidras Mingo C.b. already 33 years strong located at the restaurant in the Paseo Florida, 34, Madrid. Their webpage: https://www.casamingo.es/la-sidreria/

How to drink the Cider!   You must drink the entire bottle at once. Cider rusts quickly and becomes flat. The ideal temperature is between 10-14 degrees centigrade, cold but not cold. A “shot” or a small amount of cider should be poured into a narrow glass from a height of about 30 cm or three feet. This aerates the cider, enhances the bouquet and the natural carbonation, and is called “throwing” the Cider, which produces the gas that the Spanish call   the estrella or star. This must be consumed at once. If there is seeds or pieces , you can consume them or throw them on the ground   ( this why some steel mills have special drains for this; that is why a steel mill is separate from the bar in most establishments that offer both). At the bodega ,winery or Sidrería , you order a cider, which usually comes in a 750 ml bottle like a bottle of wine. The bartender will open the bottle, then probably go to a special “pouring station” where he will pour a glass and bring it to you. You will repeat this, and sometimes you will have to nod your head to the glass when you want another until you have had enough or the bottle has been reduced to seeds or pieces of apple. Some places will simply place a bucket next to the table without offering any further assistance beyond uncorking the cider. You are alone with the dumping if this happens.

The Asturias cider has been produced regularly since pre-Roman times. Asturias cider is internationally recognized and has received the Denominacion de Origen Protegido (DOP) seal from the European Union. It is considered an essential part of Asturian culture and gastronomy, constituting a tourist attraction that is exploited throughout the region.

The oldest reference dates from 781. with the founding act of the city of Oviedo and the monastery of San Vicente where several orchards are named. The word cider appears explicitly in the founding document of the Monastery of Santa María la Real de Obona where it is noted that the drink was supplied to the workers of the construction of the monastery.

After meat and dairy production, cider production is the most important agro-industrial activity in Asturias with 948 hectares of planted apple orchards and 45 million liters of cider produced each year. Currently, about 45,000 tons of more than 2,000 varieties of cider apples are harvested each year in Asturias. Traditionally, 22 varieties were used for the production of Sidra de Asturias DOP, to which in 2017 another 54 were added. Currently 76 varieties are recognized for the production of DOP cider.

The varieties of apples for the Asturian cider at Cerespain: http://www.cerespain.com/variedades-de-manzanas-de-sidra.html

The Asturias Cider Museum was inaugurated in 1996 and shows the process of cider from the apple tree, passed through the typical wound to the winch. Webpage: https://www.museodelasidra.com/

Another museum that has a typical llagar and a popular sample of cider in the region is the Museum of the People of Asturias in Gijón. Webpage: https://www.gijon.es/es/directorio/museu-del-pueblu-dasturies

And there you go folks another wonderful tradition of m beloved kingdom of Spain and the Principality of Asturias! Do try the ciders from Asturias they are delicious! Hope you enjoy the post as I.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

2 Comments to “The ciders of Asturias, Spain!!!”

  1. Asturias even smells like apple blossom, it’s so lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

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