Cider or cyder (// SY-dər) is a fermented alcoholic beverage made from apple juice . Cider alcohol content varies from 1.2% ABV to 8.5% or more in traditional English ciders. In some regions, cider may be called "apple wine".
In the United States and some parts of Canada, the alcoholic beverage discussed in this article is commonly known as "hard cider", while simply "cider" often refers to non-alcoholic unfiltered apple juice. The addition of sugar or extra fruit before a second fermentation increases the alcoholic content of the resulting beverage. An alcoholic apple beverage with higher alcohol content (>10%) is an "apple wine".
The juice of any variety of apple can be used in cider making but particular cultivars are grown for cider making are known as cider apples. Cider is popular in the United Kingdom, especially in the West Midlands, South West England and East Anglia. The United Kingdom has the highest per capita consumption of cider, as well as the largest cider-producing companies in the world, including H. P. Bulmer, the largest. As of 2006[update], the U.K. produces 600 million litres of cider each year (130 million imperial gallons). Much cider today is made from apple concentrate rather than fresh apples and may contain added sweeteners or flavours.
The beverage is also popular and traditional in some European countries such as Ireland and the French regions of Brittany (chistr) and Normandy (cidre); In Spain it is especially popular in the Principality of Asturias (sidra) although it can also be found in the Basque Country (sagardo) and Galicia (sidra); Germany is another country where cider is drunk, above all in Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse (Frankfurt am Main). In Poland, which is the largest producer of apples in Europe, cider (Cydr, or Jabłecznik) is just recently gaining in popularity. High quality Polish apple concentrate is commonly used for English, Swedish, and Irish cider manufacturing. Argentina is also a cider-producing and -drinking country, especially the provinces of Río Negro and Mendoza. Australia also produces cider, particularly on the island of Tasmania, which has a strong apple-growing tradition.
- 1 Appearance and types
- 2 Production
- 3 Festivals
- 4 Uses
- 5 Related drinks
- 6 National variations
- 6.1 Argentina
- 6.2 Australia
- 6.3 Austria
- 6.4 Belgium
- 6.5 Canada
- 6.6 Channel Islands
- 6.7 Chile
- 6.8 Denmark
- 6.9 East Asia
- 6.10 Finland
- 6.11 France
- 6.12 Germany
- 6.13 Ireland
- 6.14 Italy
- 6.15 Luxembourg
- 6.16 Mexico
- 6.17 Netherlands
- 6.18 New Zealand
- 6.19 Norway
- 6.20 Pakistan
- 6.21 Portugal
- 6.22 Poland
- 6.23 South Africa
- 6.24 Spain
- 6.25 Sweden
- 6.26 United Kingdom
- 6.27 United States
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
Appearance and types
The flavour of cider varies. Ciders can be classified from dry to sweet. Their appearance ranges from cloudy with sediment to completely clear, and their colour ranges from light yellow to orange to brown. The variations in clarity and colour are mostly due to filtering between pressing and fermentation. Some apple varieties will produce a clear cider without any need for filtration. Both sparkling and still ciders are made; the sparkling variety is the more common.
Modern, mass-produced ciders closely resemble sparkling wine in appearance. More traditional brands tend to be darker and cloudier. They are often stronger than the mass-produced varieties and taste more strongly of apples. Almost colourless "white cider" is produced on a large scale. It is typically strong (7-8% ABV) and inexpensive.
Scratting and pressing
Apples grown for consumption are suitable for cider making, though some regional cider-makers prefer to use a mix of eating and cider apples (as in Kent, England), or exclusively cider apples (as in the West Country, England). There are many hundreds of varieties of cultivars developed specifically for cider making.
Once the apples are gathered from trees in orchards they are scratted (ground down) into what is called pomace or pommage. Historically this was done using pressing stones with circular troughs, or by a cider mill. Cider mills were traditionally driven by the hand, water-mill, or horse-power. In modern times they are likely to be powered by electricity. The pulp is then transferred to the cider press and built up in layers known as cheeses into a block.
Traditionally the method for squeezing the juice from the apples involves placing sweet straw or hair cloths between the layers of pomace. This will alternate with slatted ash-wood racks, until there is a pile of ten or twelve layers. It is important to minimize the time that the pomace is exposed to air in order to keep oxidation to a minimum.
The set is then subjected to increasing degrees of pressure, until all the 'must' or juice is squeezed from the pomace. This juice, after being strained in a coarse hair-sieve, is then put into either open vats or closed casks. The pressed pulp is given to farm animals as winter feed, composted, discarded or used to make liqueurs.
Fermentation is carried out at a temperature of 4–16 °C (40–60 °F). This is low for most kinds of fermentation, but is beneficial for cider as it leads to slower fermentation with less loss of delicate aromas.
Shortly before the fermentation consumes all the sugar, the liquor is "racked" (siphoned) into new vats. This leaves dead yeast cells and other undesirable material at the bottom of the old vat. At this point it becomes important to exclude airborne acetic bacteria, so vats are filled completely to exclude air. The fermenting of the remaining available sugar generates a small amount of carbon dioxide that forms a protective layer, reducing air contact. This final fermentation creates a small amount of carbonation. Extra sugar may be added specifically for this purpose. Racking is sometimes repeated if the liquor remains too cloudy.
The cider is ready to drink after a three-month fermentation period, though more often it is matured in the vats for up to three years.
Blending and bottling
For larger-scale cider production, ciders from vats produced from different varieties of apple may be blended to accord with market taste. If the cider is to be bottled, usually some extra sugar is added for sparkle. Higher quality ciders can be made using the champagne method, but this is expensive in time and money and requires special corks, bottles, and other equipment. Some home brewers use beer bottles, which work perfectly well, and are inexpensive. This allows the cider to become naturally carbonated.
The western British tradition of wassailing the apple trees and making an offering of cider and bread in Autumn to protect the fertility of the orchard appears to be a relatively ancient tradition, superficially dating back to the pre-Christian Early Medieval period. The Hallowe'en tradition of 'bobbing' for apples is due to the abundance of fruit at this time. A modern cider festival is an organized event that promotes cider and (usually) perry. A variety of ciders and perries will be available for tasting and buying. Such festivals may be organized by pubs, cider producers, or cider-promoting private organizations. Long Island, NY a region well known for its award-winning wine production has made its first hard cider(s). True Companion and True Believer are the two hard ciders to come from LI winery, Peconic Bay. The recent rise in the popularity of hard cider has guided event producer, Starfish Junction, to host Long Island's first hard cider festival, Pour the Core.
Calvados and applejack are distilled from cider. Calvados is made throughout Normandy, France, not just in the Calvados département. It is made from cider by double distillation. In the first pass, the result is a liquid containing 28–30% alcohol. In a second pass, the amount of alcohol is augmented to about 40%.
Applejack is a strong alcoholic beverage made in North America by concentrating cider, either by the traditional method of freeze distillation, or by true evaporative distillation. In traditional freeze distillation, a barrel of cider is left outside during the winter. When the temperature is low enough, the water in the cider starts to freeze. If the ice is removed, the (now more concentrated) alcoholic solution is left behind in the barrel. If the process is repeated often enough, and the temperature is low enough, the alcohol concentration is raised to 30–40% alcohol by volume. In freeze distillation, methanol and fusel oil, which are natural fermentation byproducts, may reach harmful concentrations. These toxins can be separated when regular heat distillation is performed. Home production of applejack is illegal in most countries.
A few producers in Quebec and England, inspired by ice wine, have developed ice cider (French: cidre de glace). For this product, the apples are frozen either before or after being harvested. Its alcohol concentration is 9–13% ABV.
A popular apéritif in Normandy is pommeau, a drink produced by blending unfermented apple juice and apple brandy in the barrel (the high alcoholic content of the spirit stops the fermentation process of the cider and the blend takes on the character of the aged barrel).
Other fruits can be used to make cider-like drinks. The most popular is perry, known in France as poiré, produced mostly in Lower Normandy, and is made from fermented pear juice. A branded sweet perry known as Babycham, marketed principally as a women's drink and sold in miniature Champagne-style bottles, was once popular but has become unfashionable. Another related drink is cyser – cider fermented with honey.
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Before the development of rapid long distance transportation, regions of cider consumption generally coincided with regions of cider production: that is, areas with apple orchards. For example, R. A. Fletcher notes that in the Liber Sancti Jacobi, cider was said to be more common than wine in 12th century Galicia.
In Argentina, cider, or sidra is by far the most popular alcoholic carbonated drink during the Christmas and New Year holidays. It has traditionally been considered the choice of the middle and lower classes (along with ananá fizz and pineapple juice), whereas the higher classes would rather go for champagne or local sparkling wines for their Christmas or New Year toast. Popular commercial brands of cider are Real, La Victoria, Del Valle, La Farruca and Rama Caída. It is usually marketed in 0.72 litre glass or plastic bottles. However, there has been lately a campaign by some bottlers to make cider a drink consumed all year round, in any occasion, and not only seasonally. Cider now comes in smaller bottle sizes and commercials show people drinking at any time (and not only toasting with it around a traditional Christmas or New Year table).
The composition of cider is defined in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code and "means the fruit wine prepared from the juice or must of apples and no more than 25% of the juice or must of pears". Cider has been made in Australia since its early settlement. Primarily this production has been for limited local usage, with national commercial distribution and sales dominated by two brands: Mercury Cider and Strongbow. Since early 2005 they been joined in the market by numerous new producers including Three Oaks Cider, Pipsqueak and Tooheys 5 Seeds Cider as well as imported brands like Magners, Weston's, Monteith's, Kopparberg, Rekorderlig and Somersby.
With the growth in interest in cider, the number of local producers has increased. Some cider producers are attempting to use more traditional methods and traditional cider apple varieties. The Southern Highlands of New South Wales are experiencing such a traditionalist revival with brands such as Sunshack Cider made from only local produce. Tasmania, also known as the 'Apple Isle' is having a resurgence of cider making. Spreyton Cider Co is a family owned cider producer in the Mersey Valley region, just south of Devonport. They make a range of hand crafted, premium ciders made from apples grown on orchards owned for 4 generations. Capt.Blighs 'Tasmanian Cider' is one of the newest producers using cider apples from the Huon Valley and Channel area. Huon Cider, made in New Norfolk, Tasmania, from Sturmer Pippin apples, a variety of apple commonly grown in the region since the 1830s. Henry of Harcourt and Bress cider (both from Harcourt, Victoria) are two of the most complex and interesting ciders that are commercially available. Other smaller brands rely on the available culinary (standard eating - supermarket and cooking apples) fruit. From Victoria's Yarra Valley come Coldstream cider, Kelly Brothers cider and Napoleone & Co. The Bridge Road Brewery and Amulet Winery, both in Victoria's Beechworth, have released ciders. South Australia's boutique ciders include Lobo (Adelaide Hills), The Hills Cider (Adelaide Hills), Thorogoods (Burra) and Aussie Cider (Barossa). In Western Australia the number of cider producers has also grown in the southwest region, particularly in areas where wine is also produced with producers in Denmark, Pemberton and Margaret River.
The cider market has grown from late 2008 onwards due to the trend in the UK following the Magners "drink with ice campaign" and to a lesser degree the change in the laws relating to Alcohol Tax on RTDs. Cider had the largest percentage growth in sales of alcohol products in 2009 & 2010.
In Austria cider is made in the south west of Lower Austria, the so-called "Mostviertel" and in Upper Austria as well as in parts of Styria. Almost every farmer there has some apple or pear trees. Many of the farmers also have a kind of inn called "Mostheuriger". There they serve cider and also something to eat. Cider is typically called "Most".
Scottish & Newcastle own Belgium cider maker Stassen SA, who in addition to their own local brands such as Strassen X Cider also produce Strongbow Jacques, a 5.5% ABV cider with cherry, raspberry and blackcurrant flavours. Zonhoven based Konings NV specialises in private label ciders for European retailers and offers a wide variety of flavours and packaging options to the beverage industry. Stella Artois Cidre is produced in Zonhoven and has been marketed since 2011.
Quebec cider is considered a traditional alcoholic beverage. It is generally sold in 750 ml bottles, has an alcohol content generally between 7% and 13% (with aperitifs ciders having alcohol content up to 20%), and can be served as a substitute for wine. As in the rest of the world, sparkling cider is getting more and more popular in Quebec and thanks to the law cider sold in the province can only be made from 100% pure apple juice. Cider making was, however, forbidden from the early years of the British rule as it was in direct conflict with established British brewers' interests (most notably John Molson). In recent years, a new type called ice cider has emerged on the market. This type of cider is made from apples with a particularly high level of sugar caused by natural frost.
Cider is commercially produced in British Columbia (large and small producers), Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Ontario, usually with a 5-7% alcohol content. It is sold in 341ml glass bottles and two litre plastic bottles, and does not usually have added sugar.
Along with Normandy, the Channel Islands had a strong cider-making tradition. Cider had been the ordinary drink of people of Jersey from the 16th century, when the commercial opportunities offered by cider exports spurred the transformation of feudal open-field agriculture to enclosure. Until the 19th century, it was the largest agricultural export with up to a quarter of the agricultural land given over to orchards. In 1839, for example, 268,199 imperial gallons (1,219,260 L) of cider were exported from Jersey to England alone, and almost 500,000 imperial gallons (2,300,000 L) were exported from Guernsey 1834–1843, but by 1870 exports from Jersey had slumped to 4,632 imperial gallons (21,060 L).
Beer had replaced cider as a fashionable drink in the main export markets, and even the home markets had switched to beer as the population became more urban. Potatoes overtook cider as the most important crop in Jersey in the 1840s, and in Guernsey glasshouse tomato production grew in importance. Small-scale cider production on farms for domestic consumption, particularly by seasonal workers from Brittany and mainland Normandy, was maintained, but by the mid-20th century production dwindled until only 8 farms were producing cider for their own consumption in 1983.
The number of orchards had been reduced to such a level that the destruction of trees in the Storm of 1987 demonstrated how close the Islands had come to losing many of its traditional cider apple varieties. A concerted effort was made to identify and preserve surviving varieties and new orchards were planted. As part of diversification, farmers have moved into commercial cider production, and the cider tradition is celebrated and marketed as a heritage experience. In Jersey, a strong (above 7%) variety is currently sold in shops and a bouché style is also marketed.
In Guernsey the only commercial producer of cider is The Rocquette Cider Co. which produces a wide range of ciders and is beginning to compete on an international stage.
Cider has been made in Chile since colonial times. Southern Chile accounts for nearly all Cider production in the country. Chileans make a distinction between "sidra" ("cider"), in fact sparkling cider, and "chicha de manzana" ("apple chicha"), a homemade cider that is considered of less quality.
Despite a strong apple tradition, Denmark has little cider production. Six places that produce cider in Denmark are Pomona (since 2003), Fejø Cider (since 2003), Dancider (since 2004), Ørbæk Bryggeri (since 2006), Ciderprojektet (since 2008) and Svaneke Bryghus (since 2009). All are inspired mainly by English and French cider styles. The assortment of imported ciders has grown significantly since 2000, prior to that only ciders from Sweden, primarily non-alcoholic, were generally available. The leading cider on the Danish market is made by CULT A/S. In 2008, Carlsberg launched an alcoholic cider in Denmark called Somersby Cider which has an alcohol content of 4.7%, and a sweet taste.
Cider in Japan and Korea refers to a soft drink similar to Sprite or lemonade. A popular drink in China is called "Apple Vinegar", which is actually cider. Shanxi Province is noted for the "vinegar" produced there.
The best-known brands are Golden Cap, Fizz and Upcider. They typically contain 4.5-4.7%vol of alcohol. Virtually all Finnish cider is produced from fermented apple (or pear) juice concentrate and comes in a variety of flavours ranging from forest berries to rhubarb and vanilla.
French cidre (French pronunciation: [sidʁ]) is an alcoholic drink produced predominantly in Normandy and Brittany. It varies in strength from below 4% alcohol to considerably more. Cidre Doux is a sweet cider, usually up to 3% in strength. 'Demi-Sec' is 3–5% and Cidre Brut is a strong dry cider of 4.5% alcohol and above. Most French ciders are sparkling. Higher quality cider is sold in champagne-style bottles (cidre bouché). Many ciders are sold in corked bottles, but some screw-top bottles exist. In crêperies (crêpe restaurants) in Brittany, cider is generally served in traditional ceramic bowls (or wide cups) rather than glasses. A kir Breton (or kir normand) is a cocktail apéritif made with cider and cassis, rather than white wine and cassis for the traditional kir. The Domfrontais, in the Orne (Basse-Normandie), is famous for its pear cider (poiré). The calvados du Domfrontais is made of cider and poiré.
Some cider is also made in south western France, in the French part of the Basque Country. It is a traditional drink there and is making a recovery. Ciders produced here are generally of the style seen in the Spanish part of the Basque Country.
Calvados, from Normandy, and Lambig from Brittany are a spirits made of cider through a process called double distillation. In the first pass, the result is a liquid containing 28%–30% alcohol. In a second pass, the amount of alcohol is augmented to about 40%.
German cider, usually called Apfelwein (apple wine), and regionally known as Ebbelwoi, Apfelmost (apple must), Viez (from Latin vice, the second or substitute wine), or Saurer Most (sour must), has an alcohol content of 5.5%–7% and a tart, sour taste.
German cider is mainly produced and consumed in Hessen, particularly in the Frankfurt, Wetterau and Odenwald areas, in Moselfranken, Merzig (Saarland) and the Trier area, as well as the lower Saar area and the region bordering on Luxembourg and in the area along the Neckar River in Swabia. In these regions, several large producers, as well as numerous small, private producers, often use traditional recipes. An official Viez route or cider route connects Saarburg with the border to Luxembourg.
Cider is a popular drink in Ireland; for a long time cider production was officially encouraged and supported by a preferential tax treatment. A single cider, Bulmers, dominates sales in Ireland: Owned by C&C and produced in Clonmel, County Tipperary, this Bulmers has a connected history to the British Bulmers cider brand up until 1949. Outside the Republic of Ireland, C&C brand their cider as Magners. It is very popular in Ireland to drink cider over ice and encouraged in their advertising. Cidona, essentially a non-alcoholic version of Bulmers, is a popular soft drink in Ireland, and used to be a C&C-owned brand.
Cider was once widely produced in Northern Italy's apple growing regions, with a marked decline during fascist rule, due to the introduction of a law banning the industrial production of alcoholic beverages derived from fruits of less than 7% ABV, which was aimed at protecting wine producers. Present laws and regulations are favourable to cider makers, but production has only survived in a few alpine locations, mostly in the regions of Trentino, and in Piedmont, where it is known as vin ëd pom (apple wine) or pomada, because it traditionally was left to ferment in a vat along with grape pomace, giving it a distinctive reddish colour.
In Luxembourg, viez (pronounced feetz) is rather like English scrumpy. It is cloudy and varies from non-alcoholic to very alcoholic.
Two types of cider (sidra) are sold in Mexico. One type is a popular apple-flavoured, carbonated soft drink, sold under a number of soft drink brands, such as Sidral Mundet and Manzana Lift (both Coca-Cola FEMSA brands) and Sidral Aga from Group AGA. The other type, alcoholic sidra, is a sparkling cider typically sold in Champagne-style bottles with an alcohol content comparable to beer. Sidra was, due to the expense of imported Champagne, sometimes used as a substitute for New Year's Eve toasts in Mexico, as it is also a sweet, fruity drink. However, now the practice is to drink cider on Christmas Eve, celebrated with the family, and Champagne on New Year's, celebrated with friends. Cider beverages form a very small share of the Mexican alcoholic beverage market, with the figures for 2009 volume sales amounting to only 3.8 million litres.
In The Netherlands cider is not as commonly available as in its surrounding countries. In 2007 Heineken started testing a cider-based drink branded Jillz in a number of bars throughout the country. The beverage, an alcopop made by blending sparkling water, fruit flavoring, malt and cider, is marketed towards female drinkers as an alternative to beer. At the same time, Heineken also introduced Strongbow Gold as a secondary brand to provide the choice of a real cider, which was targeted to a male audience. Both beverages contain 5% alcohol by volume, which is similar to a typical draught beer in the Netherlands. Other brands are available in supermarkets, most noticeably Magners and Savanna Dry, and in liquor stores generally a broader range may be obtained.
In New Zealand, there are many companies which produce and/or distribute cider. Lion produces Isaac's ciders under the Mac's trademark. The range includes three flavours: apple, pear and berry with limited edition ciders that are released seasonally. Their Speight's brand also makes a cider.
The Dominion Breweries brands Monteith's Brewery in Greymouth on the west coast of the South Island makes an apple and a pear cider while their Old Mout Cider, based in Nelson on the South Island, is blending fruit wines with cider to create fruit ciders including boysenberry and feijoa varieties. Rekorderlig Cider (Pear, Wild Berries, Mango and Raspberry, Strawberry and Lime, Apple and Blackcurrant and Apple and spice), and Johnny Arrow Cider are another two brands owned by this company.
Ciders in New Zealand are regulated in their minimum content of fruit juice and alcohol content (mostly 4 to 5%).
In Norway, cider (sider) is a naturally fermented apple juice. Pear juice is sometimes mixed with the apple to get a better fermenting process started. The main area for cider production is in the proclaimed "fruit garden" or "apple orchard" of Norway, the Hardanger region.
Following lengthy navigation through the directives of Norway's complex alcohol laws, three brands of sparkling cider with an abv of approximately 10% are available to the Norwegian public through distribution by the monopoly outlet Vinmonopolet, Hardanger Sider Sprudlande from Hardanger, Krunesider from Bergen sourcing apples from Hardanger, and Liersider from Lier. In line with the law of 1975 prohibiting all advertising of alcoholic beverages of abv greater than 2.5%, the products receive little exposure despite some favourable press reaction.
Ciders of low alcohol levels are widely available, mostly brands imported from Sweden, although carbonated soft drinks with no alcoholic content may also be marketed as "cider".
Non-alcoholic, apple-flavoured carbonated drinks are popular in the country, with local brands suchs as Mehran Bottler's Apple Sidra and Murree Brewery's Bigg Apple in the market.
As in Italy, cider was once very popular in Northern Portugal  where its production was larger than wine production until the eleventh century, but nowadays its popularity has decreased and it is only consumed in the coasts of Minho, Âncora e Lima, where it's used as a refreshment for thirst. In some festivities it is still used rather than wine.
Poland is the largest producer of apples in Europe. Cider is known in Poland as Cydr or Jabłecznik. The category is however just gaining popularity among consumers. Areas strong in Cider production are focused around the center of the country in the Masovian and Łódź voivoideships.  Large quantities of Polish apple concentrate are exported to UK, Scandinavia and Ireland for cider production.
Brands important to note are: Cydr 7 Sadów, Joker Forest Fruit Cider, App Cider, INN Cider, Cydr Warka,Cydr Lubelski. 
Most of these brands can be found in major supermarket chains, like Tesco, Alma, Auchan and Intermarche.
There are two main brands of cider produced in South Africa, Hunters and Savanna Dry. They are produced and distributed through Distell Group Limited. Hunters Gold was first introduced in South Africa in 1988 as an alternative to beer. The Hunters range includes Hunters Dry, Hunters Gold and Hunters Export. Savanna Dry was introduced in 1996 and also comes in a Light Premium variety.
Craft cideries in South Africa are on the increase, namely Windermere real apple cider and Everson's cider both from the Elgin valley. Windermere cider is the oldest cidery in South Africa and produces real apple cider from whole Windermere farm apples. Both are traditional cideries with the cider being oak aged.
The largest producer of cider in Spain is the Atlantic region of Asturias, where cider is considered not only a beverage but an intrinsic part of its culture and folklore. Asturias amounts more than 80% of the whole production of Spain. The consumption of cider in Asturias is of 54 litres per person/year, probably the highest in any European region. One of the most popular ciders in Spain is called "El Gaitero" (the bagpipe player) which can be found everywhere in Spain and which is produced in this region. However, it must not be confused with the traditional Asturian cider as it is a sparkling cider more in the way of French ciders. It is a factory produced cider, sweet and very foamy, much like lambrusco, different from the more artisan and traditional cider productions. Recently, new apple tree plantations have been started in grounds belonging to the old coal mines, once important in Asturias.
The first testimony about cider in Asturies was made by Greek geographer Strabo in 60 BC.
The traditional Asturian sidra is a still cider of 4–8% strength, although there are other varieties. Traditionally, it is served in sidrerías and chigres, pubs specializing in cider where it is also possible to have other drinks as well as traditional food. One of the most outstanding characteristics is that it is poured in very small quantities from a height into a wide glass, with the arm holding the bottle extended upwards and the one holding the glass extended downwards. This technique is called escanciar un culín (also echar un culín) and is done to get air bubbles into the drink (espalmar), thus giving it a sparkling taste like Champagne that lasts a very short time. Cider is also poured from barrels in the traditional Espichas.
Cider has also been popular in the Basque Country for centuries. Whilst Txacoli and Rioja wines became more popular in Vizcaya, Alava and Navarra during the 19th century, there is still a strong Basque cider culture in Gipuzkoa. From the 1980s, government and gastronomic associations have worked to revive this culture in all Basque regions. Known as sagardoa (IPA: /s̺a'gaɾdoa/), it is drunk either bottled or in a cider house (called a sagardotegi), where it is poured from barrels. Most of "sagardotegis" are in the north of Gipuzkoa (Astigarraga, Hernani, Urnieta and Usurbil), but they can be found everywhere in Guipuzcoa, the north-west of Navarre and the Northern Basque Country.
Cider tasting events are popular in the Basque province of Gipuzkoa, where stalls are set up on the street selling the drink from several producers at cheap prices and served until stock runs out.
Due to Swedish law, stores in Sweden cannot sell cider with less than 15 percentage juice by volume under the name Cider. "Cider" with none or less than 15% juice is instead usually sold as "Apple/Pear beverage of cider character" (Swedish: "Äpple-/Pärondryck med Ciderkaraktär"). Brands of cider in Sweden include Rekorderlig, Kivik, Herrljunga Cider and Kopparberg cider. Most Swedish cider has little in common with traditional cider from other countries. Buyers beware of the difference between actual cider, and the cheaper imitation, which is very sweet and often berry or fruit flavoured, making it more like an alcoholic fruit soda.
The Norman conquest of England in 1066 is said to have "fired England with the Normandy enthusiasm for cider" and to have resulted in the introduction of cider apple varieties; there is practically no evidence of cider in England before that date. In the UK today cider is mostly associated with the West Country, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, but is also produced in Wales and across England, particularly Kent, Suffolk, Norfolk and more recently Buckinghamshire. Cheshire is also home to two cidermaking farms. Cider is available in sweet, medium and dry varieties. Recent years have seen a significant increase in cider sales in the UK. The National Association of Cider Makers (NACM) estimates a minimum of 480 active cider makers in the UK. As of 2008, UK cider production comprises 61.9% of cider produced in the EU, and a 7.9% share of UK alcohol servings.
There are two broad main traditions in cider production in the UK - the West Country tradition and the eastern Kent and East Anglia tradition. The former are made using a much higher percentage of true cider apples and so are richer in tannins and sharper in flavour. Kent and East Anglia ciders tend to use a higher percentage of, or are exclusively made from, culinary and dessert fruit; Kentish ciders such as Biddenden's, Rough Old Wife and Theobolds are typical of this style. They tend to be clearer, more vinous and lighter in body and flavour.
At one end of the scale are the traditional, small farm-produced varieties. These are non-carbonated and usually cloudy orange in appearance. Britain's West Country contains many of these farms which have an abundance of ancient varieties of specialist cider-apples. Production is often on such a small scale, the product being sold only at the site of manufacture or in local pubs and shops. At the other end of the scale are the factories mass-producing brands such as Strongbow and Blackthorn.
Mass-produced cider, such as that produced by Bulmers, is likely to be pasteurised and force-carbonated. The colour is likely to be golden yellow with a clear appearance from the filtration. White ciders are almost colourless in appearance.
A key market segment exists in the UK for strong white mass-produced cider at 7.5% alcohol by volume. Cider with higher than 7.5% alcohol has a higher rate of excise duty. Typical brands include White Lightning, Diamond White, Frosty Jack, and White Strike.
By volume of alcohol, the excise duty on cider is lower than any other drink. The duty, as of 2011, was £35.87 per 100 litres of cider of up to 7.5% alcohol. 100 litres of table wine or alcopops would attract £241.23 of duty, wine under 5.5% was charged £102.21, £139.28 for 100 litres of 7.5% beer, and £191.40 for the equivalent alcohol volume of spirits.
Before 1996, brands could be labelled at up to 8.4% alcohol when they actually contained 7.4%. This happened because the duty was levied on the actual strength of the alcohol, but Trade Descriptions legislation allowed the label to overstate the alcohol content by up to 1%. White Lightning was then sold in both 7.4% and 8.4% strengths, due to uncertainty about whether consumers would prefer the pricier, stronger drink, or the slightly weaker, cheap one.
Until 2005, the market leading White Lightning brand was being sold on an almost continual 50% extra free promotion, giving 3 litres of 7.5% cider for a typical selling price of £2.99. Scottish Courage, which owned the brand, decided that year to restrict bottle size to 2 litres as part of its responsible drinking strategy. A spokesman for the company spoke of white cider in general, "It is the cheapest way to buy alcohol in the UK. This is pocket money these days. There is no other alcohol category that has the same challenge as white cider. One three litre plastic bottle of white cider contains almost the full recommended weekly alcohol intake for a male drinker" (225 ml, 22.5 units, of pure alcohol content compared with the recommended maximum of 28 units). This led to a 70% drop in sales of White Lightning, but increased sales of the brand owner's weaker, more profitable brands. Other manufacturers followed by increasing prices and scrapping their 3 litre bottles.
The price increases on 7.5% cider has increased sales of 5% mass-market cider, which is still widely available in 3 litre bottles in supermarkets.
Since September 2010, HM Revenue and Customs has decreed that to be called cider a drink must contain at least 35% apple or pear juice and must have a pre-fermentation gravity of at least 1033 degrees. The legislation was introduced to stop cheap high alcohol content drinks being called cider, thus taking advantage of the lower duty rates applied to cider.
West of England
Cloudy, unfiltered ciders made in the West Country are often called "scrumpy", from "scrump", a local dialect term for a small or withered apple. Ciders from Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire made from traditional recipes have a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) awarded by the European Union. There are over 25 cider producers in Somerset alone, many of them small family businesses. Historically, farm labourers in Devon, Wiltshire, Dorset, Cornwall and Somerset would receive part of their pay in the form of a substantial daily allowance of cider and local traditions such as the Wassail recall the earlier significance of cider-apple.
Large producers in the West of England include Thatchers Cider in Sandford, Somerset, Bulmers (the producer of Strongbow) in Hereford, as well as Brothers Cider and Gaymer Cider Company, both of which are based in Shepton Mallet, Somerset. There is also Weston's Cider in Much Marcle, Herefordshire. Additionally Hogans Cider in Alcester, Warwickshire produces cider from apples and pears From Gloucestershire, Herefordshire & Worcestershire. Healey's Cornish Cyder Farm is renowned for its Rattlers branded cider, produced in Truro, Cornwall.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, a condition known as Devon colic, a form of lead poisoning, was associated with the consumption of cider, vanishing after a campaign to remove lead components from cider presses in the early 19th century. The lead poisoning was also prevalent in Herefordshire as lead salts were added to the cider as a sweetener, being much cheaper than sugar.
Central Southern England
In recent years there has been an increase in the number of smaller cider producers, many of which are making traditional ciders in areas which have not previously been recognised as cider producing areas. Buckinghamshire for example has seen three producers of real cider emerge in the past five years, two of these (Virtual Orchard and Woughton Orchard) being based in the new city of Milton Keynes. The Radnage Cider Company is based further south in the county. Virtual Orchard was awarded the prestigious Gold Medal Champion Cider of Britain in 2011 by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).
Cider is called "seidr" in Welsh.
Smallhold production of cider made on farms as a beverage for labourers died out in Wales during the 20th century. Cider and perry production in Wales began a dramatic revival in the early 2000s, with many small firms entering production throughout the country. The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has actively encouraged this trend, and Welsh ciders and perries have won many awards at CAMRA festivals; meanwhile, the establishment of groups such as UKCider and the Welsh Perry & Cider Society have spurred communication among producers.
Welsh varieties of apples and pears are often distinct from those grown in England, giving cider from Wales a flavour noticeably different from ciders from nearby regions.
Cider is made in Scotland mainly by small producers, such as Thistly Cross and Waulkmill Cider. The apples are sourced in Scotland and the resultant brews are mainly sold near to the place of origin. Thistly Cross produce many fruit flavoured ciders which are now being sold in Scottish Waitrose and Peckham's stores. Waulkmill Cider is made only with apples collected from within Dumfries and Galloway, and is mainly sold at farmers markets and festivals.
Definition of "real" cider
The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) defines "real" cider as a product containing at least 90% fresh apple juice, with no added flavourings or colourings. Their definition prohibits the use of apple and pear concentrates, and prohibits substantial chaptalisation of the juice (adding sugar prior to fermentation) except in years when the level of natural sugar in the fruit is low. They allow the addition of sweetener for taste after fermentation, and allow limited dilution after fermentation. CAMRA states that the practice of adding a substantial amount of sugar at the fermentation stage to produce a high-alcohol (12–14% abv) beverage that is then diluted with water down to 8.5% abv or less does not conform to their definition of real cider.
More leniently, UK law defines cider as containing at least 35% apple or pear juice, which may be from concentrate.
During colonial times apple cider was consumed as the main beverage with meals because water was often considered unsafe for drinking. Ciderkin, a slightly alcoholic beverage made from cider pomace, could also be found on colonial tables. Sometime after Prohibition the word cider came to mean unfiltered, unfermented apple juice. In current U.S. usage the term is used for both fresh-pressed juice and fermented products, although the latter are often called hard cider. Apple juice, meanwhile, refers to a clear, filtered, pasteurized apple product.
For instance, in Pennsylvania, apple cider is legally defined as an "amber golden, opaque, unfermented, entirely nonalcoholic juice squeezed from apples". Imitation "cider" products may contain natural or artificial flavours or colours generally recognized as safe, provided their presence is declared on the label by the use of the word "imitation" in type at least one-half the size of the type used to declare the flavour. Cider containing more than 0.15 percent alcohol by volume is classified as hard cider.
Cider may also refer to sparkling apple juice, which is often filtered, such as Martinelli's sparkling apple cider, once touted specifically as "non-alcoholic cider". Martinelli's is sold as "cider" or "juice" depending on regional usage.
Alcoholic cider is produced throughout the United States, especially in New England, Michigan, upstate New York and the West Coast with some new producers in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Some U.S. products which describe themselves as hard cider are made by adding flavourless spirit alcohol to unfermented apple juice pressed from juice apples rather than cider apples.
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