Small guide to artisanal cider: how it changes from country to country

Small guide to artisanal cider: how it changes from country to country

Cider, an alcoholic drink obtained from the fermentation of apple juice, varies from country to country: we explain the differences in Europe.

As is known, cider is an alcoholic drink obtained from the fermentation of apple juice . Unlike wine and despite the great biodiversity, in our country we do not boast a great tradition regarding this product,there are many differences in ciders from country to countryalthough there is growing interest around it. A trend on which the bet of Sidro & Cider , an import and direct distribution company, is based . With those responsible for this interesting reality, we try to trace the most evident general differences from a production and then gustatory point of view , which can be found in European artisanal ciders , starting from the awareness of the existence of thousands of apple varieties, whose characteristics they are at least as connotative as those of grapes in wines.


  1. France . When we talk about French cider, we generally refer to that of Normandy and Brittany. Sweet or dry, they often have bitter notes, hints of almond or cooked apple. The first fermentation, due to the yeasts present on the skins of the fruit (i.e. without selected strains added), is followed by a refermentation, in some cases even resorting to champagne yeasts. The 75 cl bottles almost underline an inevitable contiguity between two geographically not distant worlds. Equally obvious are the combinations with the gastronomic and dairy heritage of these regions.
  2. Great Britain and Ireland . With the invasion of the Normans, the fermentation of apple juice also spread to England, where currently two production schools can be distinguished. Western ciders , such as those from Herefordshire which can boast the PGI mark, are more decisive and rich in tannins due to the types of fruit used. The rest of the eastern counties , resorting to apples not only for cider but also for table and dessert, are kinder. Both in Great Britain and in Ireland they are often flavored with natural ingredients such as elderberry, blueberry or red fruits in general. It is not uncommon to find them contained in the so-called Bag in box. If in France there is a certain affinity with wine, in these parts cider goes hand in hand with beer: it is not excluded that fermentation can be carried out by selected yeast strains, while consumption is concentrated above all in pubs and festivals dedicated to craft beer or real ales .
  3. Germany and Austria . Widely popular in both countries, Apfelwein (literally apple wines ) are typical especially in the German region of Hesse and in particular in Frankfurt, where they are served in porcelain stoneware jugs called Bembel , in the city’s traditional taverns. Depending on the fermentation times, they are more or less dry, flat or slightly sparkling. Unlike the English ones, they are devoid of other added fruits, but non- spontaneous fermentations are frequent in these parts as well . The warm winter version with spices is an alternative to Glühwein , mulled wine so to speak.
  4. Italy . Excluding small, almost household producers, the commercially significant realities in Italy are concentrated above all in Val d’Aosta, Piedmont and Trentino. Although we have many varieties of apples, these are almost all for table or dessert. At the production level, a lot of attention is paid to prosecco, consequently our ciders tend to meet the taste of those who are used to appreciating sparkling wines.
  5. Spain . Turning our gaze to the Iberian Peninsula, we inevitably need to focus on the North of Spain: the Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia. The natural (feminine) sidra is free from added yeasts, sugars and carbon dioxide. The main gustatory characteristic is a marked acidity which makes it more difficult to approach than products from other countries. The pouring technique is also curious: it is poured from above into thin glass glasses, in order to break up the CO2 present.
  6. Other Countries . A very interesting story is that of a producer from Luxembourg who , in order to avoid the abandonment of apple orchards by local farmers, has been buying all their crops for years and producing excellent quality ciders. Equally worthy of consideration are the cider factories of Northern Europe, in particular of Sweden , with even extreme products suitable for pairing with more traditional foods.

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