Cider is a huge part of the culture of Asturias
, which produces 40 million litres of the drink a year most of which is never exported, since they consume most of the production themselves. With only around a million inhabitants that's a lot of cider to drink.
But Asturianos love their cider, and are really proud of it. Cider from Asturias holds the only “Denominación the Origen” (Protected Designation of Origin) of a cider in Spain, and only last year the cider “Españar” from Asturias won the title for Best International Cider at the Royal Bath and West Show
In other words, the Basque country, where the first written testimony of cider dates from 1014, while the first one in Asturias from 40BC is not the only place in Spain where cider is a main concern.'Chigres' and 'sidrerias'
These are the two places that serve cider in Asturias. A chigre is a bar and traditionally they used to be bars that also served as shops, normally in small villages. The name comes from a very ingenious corkscrew, made from a winch, a handle operated set of gears used in boats. This corkscrew was set on the wall and used to open the bottles of cider faster than with a regular one. Over time the word changed to refer to the whole bar.
Sidrerias are normally bigger and they serve a larger array of food than chigres. They are the most common place in Asturias to drink cider. There are a lot of different kinds of sidrerias in Asturias, so feel free to explore them and look for the one that works for you. Most of them will have more than one brand of cider but in Asturias cider is very rarely asked for by the brand name. People will only order 'a bottle' and after drinking that bottle if they want to try a different one they'll ask the server to change 'el palo', meaning to change the brand. A bottle of cider costs about 2,5€ in Asturias so if the first one is not your favorite not much is lost. Drinking cider: how to
Cider in Asturias is served in a very particular way. The bottle, which is always green and has a very characteristic shape, is held over the head and poured into a wide brim thin glass that the server holds on the other hand so the cider falls well over a meter from the bottle to the glass. This is what is called 'escanciar' only a small amount is poured and it's drunk in one single gulp right after it is served. The measure is called a culin or culete (literally 'small bottom' because the drink only covers the bottom of the glass.) The reason to drink it this very particular way is so the fall brings up the carbonic in the drink, which brings up flavours you otherwise couldn't get. Cider is a very social drink in Asturias, so a lot of times more than one person will be drinking from the same glass. For this reason traditionally when drinking cider one always leaves a few drops on the glass that are later thrown away cleaning the brim of the glass for the next drinker (of course people who share a glass are normally friends or know each other, you don't just share a glass with a stranger!)The where and the when
Cider is made (and drunk) in all of Asturias. In most main cities you can find areas with a very prolific amount of sidrerias. In Oviedo it would be Gascona, in Gijón it would be Cimadevilla and El Llano, Mieres has Requejo and Aviles has Rivero. But if you want to really experience cider in Spain nothing can beat “La Comarca de la Sidra
” or The Cider Shire. This is the area in which most of the cider is made, it comprises the areas of Villaviciosa, Colunga, Sariego, Cabranes, Nava and Bimenes, and it offers a lot of activities related to cider, such as guided tours of the area, visits to llagares and cider tastings.
While cider can be enjoyed all through the year Summer holds the biggest cider festivals. The second weekend of July is time for the Nava Cider Festival
which has been declared of Natonal Turistic Interest. It lasts for several days and thousands of litres of the drink flow freely while people “escancia” in the streets. In the last week of August Gijón also holds a cider festival, in which the best cider of the year is chosen among the participating llagares, and on the last day cider is free! Related articlesPub beer gardensCoffee shopsSpain