Cider making is popular in most of the countries of the temperate regions of the world. The United States, Canada, Central and South America and Australia were originally introduced to the craft of cider making by immigrants from Western Europein particular, from Normandy, Brittany, Wiesbaden, the Basque territory of Spain, Ireland and Britain.
Today, cider is becoming increasingly big business. The main cider producing countries include:
France is the world”s largest cider producing country. French regulations insist that cider can only be made from fresh apples or a mixture of apples and pears. Traditional French cider is deliciously light and sparkling and is usually stored in champagne-style bottles.
Normandy and Brittany in northern France, the main apple cider-producing regions, are famous for their traditional sweet cidre. Cider is so popular that it is the first choice of drink for many Bretons. Some restaurants even substitute a bottle of cider for the usual free bottle of wine.
Asturias and the Basque region of northern Spain are the country”s main cider producing regions. Their traditional style ciders, otherwise known as “sidra,” are famous for the complex flavors of green apples, vanilla, plum and honey.
Sidra is traditionally poured in small quantities from a height of about three feet into a glass; this allows air bubbles to get into the drink. The bubbles last for a brief period of time, but it enhances the sparkling taste of the sidra. Spanish cider is usually bottled and corked in conventional wine bottles.
Britain”s main cider producing counties are Devon, Somerset and Herefordshire. Although some of the country”s larger cider producers import concentrated apple juice, most quality cider (and there is plenty of it!) is made from locally grown apples using traditional production methods.
While modern ciders are clear and sparkling, traditional, hard or “real” cider, also known as “scrumpy,” is darker, cloudier, and higher in alcohol content. Scrumpy is made only from apples and using the traditional method.
America produces a wide variety of cider styles, ranging from the mass-produced to the more natural varieties. Today, the art of traditional cider making is flourishing, particularly in many areas of New England, Oregon and Vermont. Unlike European cider, North American cider falls into two main categoriesuntreated, freshly expressed juice (sweet cider) and fermented juice (hard cider).
Types and styles of cider vary considerably from country to country, but one factor remains constanta thirst for quality, flavorful cider.