When people are asked about the most popular alcohol drinks in Spain, they easily can distinguish wines, sherries, cava, beers, vermouth, and sangria of course.
However, another great option is undeservedly forgotten, which is a shame because Spanish cider or sidra as it is called in Spanish is just amazing! Originally, cider is produced in Asturias but is also a very popular drink in the neighboring provinces such as Galicia, Cantabria, and the Basque country. This drink is made from the local species of apples and held in wooden barrels. There is even a special way how it should be poured to make natural bubbles.
No one can exactly say when and why cider became a part of the Asturian culture. However, the first proof is dated back in the 1st century B.C. and it was made by the Greek traveler Strabo. He told that the people in Asturias are drinking fermented apple juice and call this drink Zythos. Another written sources of the 12th century made by some unknown pilgrims can prove that cider was more popular than wine during this period in the North of Spain. A new era of Spanish cider has started in the late 1980s when it became a mass production. Today, bottled Spanish cider can be found in many shops around Europe but the best option to try is natural cider produced by local siderías.
Usually, two the main types of Spanish cider are distinguished: sidra natural and sidra gasificada. Sidra natural means natural cider and it is not mass production. The drink is made individually by people or restaurants and does not contain any added supplements of fermentation. Usually, this kind of cider is made by juices of different types of apples to get the perfect combination of sweetness and acidity. The juices are naturally fermented in chestnut barrels for 5 months until the natural alcohol is made and the young cider is ready to be bottled.
Sidra gasificada contains a lot of added sugar during the fermentation process and artificially made bubbles. Usually, this type of cider is a mass production made in factories because it should be held in stainless steel barrels. As a result, this type of cider does not have that deep flavor and fruity smell.
Ways of Drinking
If you are going to drink a bottled cider at home, then you should finish the whole bottle at once because the bubbles are going to disappear fast the drink becomes flat. Keep in mind that Spanish cider is not drinking cold. It might be poured into a glass from a height of around 30 cm to make it more bubbled.
Ordering a glass of cider in a bar means a waiter will come to your table with a 750 ml bottle, artistically pour a glass, will rush you to drink it faster, and then repeat the process of pouring again and again until the bottle is empty. This experience is extremely fun especially if you understand Spanish language but be careful – you will end up dizzy and ready for the Spanish fiesta all night long!