Celebrating cider in Asturias
You probably didn’t know but northern Spain’s Nava hosts one of the most famous Cider festivals in Europe.
Home to 80% of Spain’s cider production, in Asturias, apple trees grow prolifically around the snow-capped Picos de Europa mountain range, which creates a climactic wall between the arid central Spanish plateau and this verdant yet rugged, rainy jigsaw puzzle of valleys.
Here, Sidra is much more than just a drink, it is a symbol of regional identity. It is said that the making of fermented cider dates back to the Celtic times, however, Asturian cider production really took off in the early 1900s, transforming a sector comprised mainly of small artisans with the creation of a strict DOP status.
To fully understand how important cider is in Asturias, you actually need to go to the town of Nava for its annual Cider Festival.
Held during the second weekend in July and the week running up to it, the town organises numerous cultural activities from talks to pouring competitions, exhibitions, concerts and even free cider tasting.
Beware: the only requirement for being able to drink for free is that you wear a green handkerchief around your neck to distinguish yourself as a friend and defender of the beverage.
Probably the most anticipated event is the pouring competition. You might or might not know it but typical Asturias cider is actually ‘still’ since the cider is bottled with no artificial carbonation. The tradition here is to ‘escanciar’ or pour from height in order to achieve a form of instantaneous aeration.
Locals practice it year around, bottle in one hand high above the head, cider glass in the other held as low as possible. People here do it so often that they don’t even have to look - they just stare straight ahead as the cider cascades from bottle to glass.
Despite their being good at minimising spillage, cider consumption per capita is 54 litres in these parts. When we try our hand at pouring, we get through about twice that amount - those glasses are smaller than they look!
In 1996 Nava was awarded ‘Exemplary Town of Asturias’ by King Juan Carlos of Spain since the locals’ passion for cider protects an important piece of Spain’s cultural heritage.
A perfect setting to walk in and around the beautiful Picos de Europa National Park, you have no excuse, this should be your summer destination…
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