Asturian Cider Culture: More Than a Drink

12/7/20233 min read

red and yellow apples
red and yellow apples

Asturian Cider Culture: More Than a Drink

When we think of cider, images of crisp apples and refreshing beverages often come to mind. However, in the region of Asturias, Spain, cider is not just a drink. It is a cultural phenomenon that has shaped traditions, social gatherings, and celebrations for centuries. In this article, we will dive into the world of Asturian cider, exploring its production, cultural significance, and the social rituals surrounding its consumption.

The Production of Asturian Cider

Asturian cider, also known as sidra, is made from locally grown apples, which are carefully selected and harvested in the region. The production process is a labor of love, with each step contributing to the unique flavor and character of the final product.

The first step in cider production is the crushing of the apples. Traditionally, a large wooden press, known as a lagar, is used to extract the juice from the apples. This method ensures that the cider retains the natural flavors and aromas of the fruit.

Once the juice is extracted, it is left to ferment naturally in large wooden barrels called toneles. This fermentation process can take several months, during which the sugars in the juice are converted into alcohol. The resulting cider is dry, with a slightly tart flavor that is characteristic of Asturian cider.

After the fermentation process is complete, the cider is bottled and stored in cool cellars to age. This aging process further enhances the flavor of the cider, giving it a smooth and complex taste.

The Cultural Significance of Asturian Cider

Asturian cider is more than just a beverage; it is deeply rooted in the cultural identity of the region. For centuries, cider has been an integral part of Asturian life, playing a central role in celebrations, social gatherings, and even religious ceremonies.

One of the most significant cultural events related to Asturian cider is the "espicha." An espicha is a traditional gathering where friends, family, and neighbors come together to enjoy cider and traditional Asturian food. These gatherings often take place in cider houses, known as "sidrerías," which are dedicated to the production and consumption of cider.

During an espicha, participants engage in a series of rituals that have been passed down through generations. The most important ritual is the pouring of the cider, known as "escanciar." The cider is poured from a height of about one meter into a glass held below the waist. This technique, known as "culín," is believed to enhance the flavor and release the natural carbonation of the cider.

Another important aspect of the espicha is the food that accompanies the cider. Traditional Asturian dishes such as fabada (a hearty bean stew), cabrales cheese, and chorizo are served alongside the cider, creating a perfect harmony of flavors.

Aside from the espicha, cider is also an essential part of Asturian celebrations and festivals. The most famous of these is the Festival of the Cider, held annually in the town of Nava. During this festival, locals and visitors come together to celebrate the cider harvest, enjoying music, dance, and, of course, plenty of cider.

Traditional Cider Houses in Asturias

To truly experience Asturian cider culture, a visit to a traditional cider house is a must. These cider houses, known as "sidrerías," are scattered throughout the region and offer a unique insight into the world of Asturian cider.

Upon entering a sidrería, you will be greeted by the sight of rows of wooden barrels, each containing a different variety of cider. The atmosphere is lively and convivial, with the sound of cider being poured and the clinking of glasses filling the air.

One of the most fascinating aspects of a sidrería is the cider pouring ritual. As mentioned earlier, the cider is poured from a height, with the glass held below the waist. This technique requires skill and precision, and it is not uncommon to see cider enthusiasts practicing their pouring skills.

Another unique feature of a sidrería is the use of cider barrels as tables. Instead of traditional tables and chairs, customers gather around large barrels, creating a communal and festive atmosphere. This communal seating arrangement encourages interaction and conversation, making the sidrería a social hub.

Visiting a sidrería is not just about enjoying cider; it is about immersing yourself in the Asturian way of life. It is an opportunity to connect with the locals, learn about their traditions, and experience firsthand the warmth and hospitality that defines Asturian culture.


Asturian cider is more than just a drink; it is a cultural treasure that has shaped the identity of the region. From its production process to its cultural significance and social rituals, cider is deeply intertwined with the fabric of Asturian life.

So, the next time you raise a glass of Asturian cider, take a moment to appreciate the centuries of tradition and craftsmanship that have gone into creating this unique beverage. And if you ever find yourself in Asturias, be sure to visit a traditional cider house to fully immerse yourself in the rich and vibrant world of Asturian cider culture.