On our way to our initial starting point in Lisbon we pass the beautiful region Asturias – a green and quiet spot in Northern Spain.
During dinner in a typically local restaurant, called Sidreria, my Russian travel companion encounters the rules of Sidra drinking for the first time. I already knew what to expect since I spent my studies some time ago in this region. Sidra is a Spanish apple wine and the ritual of getting it into a glass is legendary. I must admit it looks strange, but they really take their drinking seriously here. Only with oxygen the typical flavor of the drink develops. This is why they pour it into the glass by holding the bottle high up. The sequence of steps to gain this tasty experience is not that difficult. See little picture below:
First step: You need a bottle of Sidra (which is easy to get) with an optimal temperature between 13-14° Celsius. Furthermore you need a bigger glass that looks a bit like a flower vase.
Second step Pour it: Sidra is not an industrial product and therefore it has no added gas. However, if you pour it from high above, as illustrated and the wine enters the glass with some momentum then the Sidra is enriched with oxygen and has a sparkling and fresh taste for a short period of time.
You fill only about one fifth of the glass so it is easy to drink in one sip as shown in step three. You have to drink it immediately otherwise the sparkles will disappear, BUT leave a little rest in the glass. This you use to clean your glass for the next round and after doing so just pour it away. The people here say it is for hygiene.
Dima quickly understands the procedure, but is very skeptical about all these rituals. Actually all this ceremony for just one sip of alcohol is not convincing for him. For every glass he wants to drink he has to ask the waiter to come to our table and pour the glass for him. The guy immediately comes and passionately demonstrates his skills of dispensing the Sidra. Obviously if you pour the bottle from high above you tend to spill some parts of it. For this reason the waiters have special trays which they move around as they are serving the tables or they just go outside and do it there. All this fuss and the spilling of the drink in addition is just too much for Dima, he just cannot believe how much of the bottle is wasted. The need to throw away the last sip in the glass gives him the rest; he just shakes his head in disbelief.
Together we manage to drink one bottle of Sidra, but for now it will be our last for quite some time. My man just does not like so much waste and will stick to Vodka or Rum instead. With those drinks he knows how the drink is poured into the glass and then into his stomach (without loosing or wasting any drop). Also he can just refill the glasses by himself, which he likes doing most.
See for yourselves:
P.S.: The 6,5% apple wine is so popular in Asturias that the people here drink about 45 Million liters of it every year (or according to Dima they just pour it away). This piece of information makes him wonder even more about this strange tradition for the last time before we leave to Portugal. There we have Portwine, which you just pour into a glass and drink – Salud!