Cider: some definitions

Some definitions:

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.



Cider (also spelled: cyder) refers to a beverage containing the juice of apples. In Europe and Oceania, the term refers to fermented apple juice. In North America cider is normally unfermented; when fermented, it is known as “hard cider” or “alcoholic cider”. In North America, cider is bought fresh; when filtered, clarified, fortified with Vitamin C for shelf life, and pasteurized, it is known as apple juice.

Alcoholic ciders

In Europe and Oceania cider is an alcoholic drink made from fermented apple juice. It is often stronger than beer, and is frequently over 6% alcohol by volume. The common eating apples are unsuitable for cider making, being low in tannins; specific apple cultivars bred especially for cider making are preferred.

Cider comes in a variety of tastes, from sweet to dry. Sweet cider tends to be popular with young people.

Modern, mass-produced ciders are generally heavily processed and resemble sparkling wine in appearance. More traditional brands, often known as scrumpy, tend to be darker and more cloudy, as less of the apple is filtered out. They are often stronger than processed varieties.

“White cider” is made by processing cider after the traditional brewing process is complete, resulting in a nearly white product. This processing allows the manufacturer to produce strong (typically 7-8% ABV) cider cheaply, quickly, and on an industrial scale, often from poor raw materials

Unfermented cider

American-style unfiltered, unfermented unpasturized cider, left; Apple juice, right.

In North America, cider was traditionally fermented, but that alcoholic apple drink (see below) is now referred to as hard cider or as alcoholic cider. Today in North America, cider is a nonalcoholic beverage; a subcategory of apple juice, traditionally made from early-harvest apples, which have lower sugar content and are more acidic, thus cider has a more tart, tangy taste than apple juice. It is generally (though not always) unfiltered, giving it an opaque appearance from suspended solids. It is occasionally still sold unpasteurized, which is considered to have a better flavor, however, due to the possibility of salmonella and E. coli infection, most apple cider is pasteurized.

Apple ciders are often made from blends of several different apples to give a balanced taste. Some businesses may try to pass off standard apple juice as cider. There is some local competitiveness among cider mills in apple country for the highest quality blends, and makers keep their formulas secret. One trick used to add interest to a cider blend is the addition of a percentage of crabapples. Cider doughnuts are often sold at cider mills and contain cider in the batter.

Hot cider or mulled cider is a popular fall (autumn) and winter beverage, consisting of (nonalcoholic) cider, heated to a temperature just below boiling, with cinnamonorange peelnutmegcloves, and other spices added.

Another cider available in the US is sparkling cider, a carbonated nonalcoholic beverage made from filtered apple cider or apple juice.

Cider by country

In traditional cultures, just as a general line could be drawn separating wine regions from beer regions, broadly speaking, so cider has been the natural common drink of regions with strong orchard traditions. In 12th-century Galicia “it would seem that a good deal of cider was drunk. The French author of the guidebook for pilgrims which forms a part of the so-called Liber Sancti Jacobi commented that it was more often to be encountered in Galicia than wine. Cider as well as wine was drunk at a king’s coronation in 1111, and a render of cider was stipulated as part of the rent in a lease of 1116. (Fletcher 1984)


In Australia, ‘cider’ can be either an alcoholic drink as described above, or a sparkling non-alcoholic beverage made from apples. The most popular brands of alcoholic cider in Australia are Strongbow, and Mercury Cider made at the Cascade Brewery in Hobart, Tasmania. Cascade’s ‘Apple Isle’ Sparkling Apple Juice is the most popular selling brand of non-alcoholic cider in Australia. Alcoholic cider is sold in bottleshops, while the non-alcoholic version is stocked in the soft-drink aisles of supermarkets.


In Quebec, cider is considered a traditional alcoholic beverage. Cider making was, however, forbidden since the early years of the British occupation as it was in direct conflict with established British brewers’ interests (most notably John Molson). In recent years, a unique variety has emerged on the market: ice cider. This type of cider is made from apples with a particularly high level of sugar caused by natural frost.

In Ontario, apple cider or apple hooch is often home-made. Apples are de-cored, juiced, and boiled. Sugar is dissolved into the apple/water mixture. Brewer’s yeast is added and the cider is fermented for up to two weeks, or three before bottling, and then aged to taste.

East Asia

Cider in Japan and Korea sometimes means just a soft drink, not necessarily made from apples.


French cidre is an alcoholic drink produced predominantly in Normandy and Brittany. It varies in strength from below 4% alcohol to considerably more. Cidre Doux is usually any cider up to 3% in strength. ‘Demi-Sec’ is from 3 to 5% and Cidre Brut is a strong cider of 5% alcohol and above. Most are usually sparkling. Higher quality cider is sold in Champagne-style bottles (cidre bouché), and while much of cidre is sold in corked bottles, some screw-tops bottles exist. Until the mid-20th century, cidre was the second most-consumed drink in France (after wine) but an increase in the popularity of beer displaced cider’s market share outside traditional cider-producing regions. In restaurants in Brittany, cider is sometimes served in traditional ceramic bowls (or wide cups) rather than glasses. A kir normand is a cocktail apéritif made with cider and cassis, rather than white wine and cassis for the traditional kir. Cider is still made in the Channel Islands, but there is a great deal less now than there was in the past. In Jersey, the only locally produced cider currently sold in shops is a strong (above 7%) variety.


German cidre, usually called Apfelwein (apple wine), and regionally known as 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 cidre is mainly produced and consumed in Hessen, particularly in the FrankfurtWetterau and Odenwald areas, in MoselfrankenMerzig(Saarland) and the Trier area, as well as the lower Saar area and the region bordering on Luxembourg. In these regions, there are several large producers, as well as numerous small, private producers often using traditional recipes.

In some of these regions, there are regular cidre competitions and fairs, in which the small, private producers participate. Cidre songs are composed and sung at these events. The Merzig region crowns a Viez Queen, and the lower Saar area a Viez King.

An official Viez route, (Rue de Cidre) 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, Bulmers cider is a different cider to Bulmers in England where C&C do not own the brand, in the United Kingdom C&C brand their cider as Magners.


The Spanish regions of Asturias and the Basque Country are well known for traditional sidra, an alcoholic cider of 4 to 8% strength. Sidra or Sagardoa (Euskadi) is traditionally 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 is called to escanciar (or, in asturianechar) and is done to get air bubbles into the drink, thus giving it a sparkling taste like Champagne that lasts a very short time. Spanish sidra is closely associated with sidrerías or sidreríes (Asturias) or sagardotegiak (Euskadi) (“cider houses”). In the Basque region of Guipúzcoa, it is a tradition to visit sagardotegiak between February and May to drink new sidra from the barrel accompanied by a meal (like the well known “txuleton”). Txotx!

United States

Somewhere around the time of Prohibition, the word cider came to mean sparkling apple juice, largely through the influence of Martinelli’s sparkling apple cider, which was once touted specifically as “non-alcoholic cider”. The patented “Golden Apple” bottle design is well known throughout the world, as it intentionally resembles a champagne bottle. The Martinelli’s brand of sparkling non-alcoholic cider is so well known in many parts of the country that “cider” and “Martinelli’s” are often synonymous.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom cider is predominantly (but by no means exclusively) made in the southwest and west of England and is known as scrumpy in the West Country. Cider from GloucestershireHerefordshire and Worcestershire in England made from traditional recipes forms a European Union Protected Geographical Indication.

Cider is often the drink of choice for teenagers in the UK (along with alcopops; see also Snakebite). This is aided by preferentially low duty rates for cider compared to beer, which reduces its cost. Abdominal pains known as “Devon colic” have been attributed to mild lead poisoning; the acidic juice dissolves lead from the traditional cider presses used in that region.

Local West Country legends tell of cider served at concerts for the Somerset band The Wurzels, often being described as ‘proper’ scrumpy. Many locals insist the reputed ‘bits’ in such scrumpy enhanced the flavor, and sometimes the strength of the alcoholic content.

West Country cider is parodied by Terry Pratchett in his descriptions of the Discworld beverage scumble.

Real cider

CAMRA has defined “real cider” as the following:

  2. The liquid content before fermentation must consist entirely of non-pasteurized apple (Cider), or pear (Perry) juice.
  3. No apple or pear juice concentrates to be used.
  4. Normally, only the sugar naturally available in the fruit should be used to cause fermentation, but in years when the level of natural sugar in the fruit is low, the addition of extraneous sugar to aid fermentation is acceptable.
  6. No pasteurization to take place during the production process in relation to the cask product.
  7. No added

    colouringsto be used.

  8. No added flavorings to be used.
  9. There must be no artificial carbonation for draught products.
  10. Sweetenermay be added to fully fermented Cider/Perry to make it sweet or medium.
  11. The addition of water is permitted to bring the alcoholic content of the Cider/Perry down to the level required by the producer. Ideally,

    howeverthe minimum juice content should not be lower than 90% volume.

  12. No

    micro filtrationallowed (this takes all the yeast, leaving a “dead” product).

  13. The above is item 5.2 as extracted from CAMRA’s External Policy Document 2003 – 2004″ (fromCAMRA’s Cider & Perry page)

Related drinks

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. In freeze distillation, hazardous concentrations of methanol and fusel oil may develop. These toxins can be separated when regular, heat distillation is performed. Home production of applejack is illegal in most countries. (Applejack is also a type of hat, popular in the early 20th century and with Rastafarians.)

Cocktails may include cider. Besides kir and snakebite, an example is Black Velvet in a version of which cider may replace champagne.

Other alcoholic beverages are also made from apples, such as apple wine and the distilled spirits apple brandy and calvados. A popular apéritif in Normandy is pommeau—a drink produced by blending unfermented cider 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). Calvados is the basis of the tradition of le trou Normand, or “the Norman hole”. This is a small drink of calvados taken between courses in a very long meal. It is supposed to re-awaken the appetite.

Other fruits can be used to make cider-like drinks. The most popular is perry, known in France as poiré and produced mostly in Normandy, which 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 now become unfashionable. Fermented peach juice can be made into “peachy”.

Another related drink is cyser (cider fermented with honey).

A few producers in Quebec have developed cidre de glace (literally “ice cider”, sometimes called “apple ice wine”), inspired from ice wines, where the apples are naturally frozen either before or after harvest. The alcohol concentration of cidre de glace is 9-13%.