Cider Culture

CIDER ACCORDING TO SPANISH LAW

“Sidra” (in Spanish) or “Sagardoa” (in Basque) generates more and more interest outside our borders, especially the type called “natural cider”. A few weeks ago Jane Peyton (aka School of Booze) asked me if there is a legal definition of minimum juice content for cider in Spain. Well, the answer is a bit more complicated than it may seem, so I’ve decided to write a post with some information I shared with her.

To understand the legality of cider in Spain it’s necessary to first know some details about the quality standard of the different categories. The first thing to distinguish is “cider” and “natural cider”, and the subcategories that the law determines in each of these main denominations.

DEFINITIONS OF “NATURAL CIDER”

  • Natural cider: Product resulting from the fermentation of natural apple juice, whose content in carbonic gas and sugars is exclusively endogenous. Its volumetric alcoholic strength acquired must be equal to or greater than 5% ABV and its relative pressure inside the bottle must be greater than 0.5 bar at 20 ° C.
  • Sweet natural cider: Product resulting from the partial fermentation of natural apple juice, whose content in carbonic gas and sugars is exclusively endogenous. Its volumetric alcoholic strength acquired must be equal to or greater than 1% ABV and less than or equal to 3% ABV, and its total sugar content must be greater than 50 g / l.
  • Sparkling natural cider: Product resulting from the second fermentation of a natural cider due to the natural sugars or by the addition of tirage liquour, whose carbonic gas content is exclusively endogenous in origin. Its volumetric alcoholic strength acquired must be equal to or greater than 5.5% ABV and its relative pressure inside the bottle, after the second fermentation, must be greater than 3 bars at 20 ° C. Depending on where this second fermentation takes place, a distinction is made between:
    • Fermentation in the bottle: With a permanence in the bottle for a minimum of five months. (“Traditional” or “Ancestral” champagne methods).
    • Fermentation in large containers: The second alcoholic fermentation has been carried out in hermetically sealed tanks and transferred to the bottles with a minimum stay in deposit of three months. (“Charmat” method)
  • Natural cider with low alcohol content: Natural cider to which alcohol has been eliminated by physical means. Its volumetric alcoholic strength acquired must be equal to or greater than 1% vol. and less than or equal to 3% vol.
  • Natural cider without alcohol: Natural cider to which alcohol has been eliminated by physical means, without losing its organoleptic characteristics. Its volumetric alcoholic strength acquired must be less than 1% ABV.

DEFINITIONS OF “CIDER”

  • Cider: Product resulting from the total or partial fermentation of apple juice, to which can be added, after fermentation, sugars or sugar syrups (according to the regulations on certain sugars intended for human consumption) and carbon dioxide. Its volumetric alcoholic strength acquired must be equal to or greater than 4% ABV.
  • Extra cider: Cider made from the total or partial fermentation of natural apple juice. Its volumetric alcoholic strength acquired will be equal to or greater than 5% ABV.
  • Cider with other fruit juice: Product made from cider to which fruit juice or fruit juice from concentrate or concentrated fruit juice have been added. Its volumetric alcoholic strength acquired will be equal to or greater than 4% ABV.
  • Flavored cider: Product made from cider to which aromas have been added. Its volumetric alcoholic strength acquired will be equal to or greater than 4% vol.
  • Ice Cider: Cider obtained from the total or partial fermentation of juice from frozen apples (cryoextraction) or frozen apple juice (cryoconcentration). Its volumetric alcoholic strength acquired must be equal to or greater than 8% ABV and its concentration of total sugars must be equal to or greater than 100 g / l.
  • Cider cocktail: Drink obtained from cider and its mixture with fruit juices or soft drinks. Its volumetric alcoholic strength acquired will be less than 4% ABV. The cider must be present in the finished product in a proportion greater than 50%.
  • Low alcohol cider: Cider to which alcohol has been eliminated by physical means. Its volumetric alcoholic strength acquired will be equal to or greater than 1% ABV and less than or equal to 3% ABV.
  • Cider without alcohol: Cider to which alcohol has been eliminated by physical means, without losing its organoleptic characteristics. Its volumetric alcoholic strength acquired will be less than 1% vol.

JUICE CONCENTRATE

When is the use of juice concentrate and when is forbidden?

  • Natural cider: Addition of concentrated apple juice is forbidden in all categories, except for the tirage liquour and expedition liquour, in the case of sparkling natural cider.
  • Extra cider & ice cider: The use of concentrated apple juice for extra cider and ice cider is prohibited, and allowed in the rest “cider” categories.

WATER ADDITION

When is water addition allowed and when is forbidden?

  • Juice: Addition of water is forbidden, except in the reconstituted apple juice, to which restitution water may be added.
  • Natural cider: Addition of water is forbidden in all the categories.
  • Cider: Addition of water is allowed in the technical quantities necessary to adjust the volumetric alcoholic strength acquired, with the exception of ice cider, in which water addition is prohibited.

TIRAGE & EXPEDITION LIQUOURS

What are the tirage and expedition liquours?

  • Tirage liquour: Product that is added to natural cider to cause the second fermentation, consisting of dried or suspended yeasts, sucrose or natural apple juice or concentrated apple juice and natural cider. Sucrose will be added in the amount strictly necessary to cause the second fermentation and the incorporation of the tirage liqueur cannot increase the total volumetric alcoholic strength of the natural starting cider by more than 1.5% ABV.
  • Expedition liquour: Product that is added to the natural sparkling cider to confer certain taste characteristics, consisting of natural apple juice, concentrated apple juice, distilled apple cider, natural cider or a mixture of these products. The incorporation of expedition liquour may not increase the alcoholic strength acquired by more than 0.30% ABV.

Royal Decree 72/2017, of February 10, which approves the quality standard of the different categories of natural cider and cider.

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