The number of consumers drinking cider in Portugal has increased by 56% since 2015 according to a study. The majority of them are under the age of 35. 44.3% of people aged 15-24 said that they had consumed cider in the last 12 months, as well as 31.9% of people aged 25-34. But… What kind of cider are they used to drink?
The Portuguese market is mainly covered by Somersby, a Danish industrial beverage owned by Carlsberg. However, some companies are betting on real cider, made with 100% apple juice. This is the case of Sidrada, Nua Cider, Sidra Alfa and Sidra Faca nos Dentes, four brands that I could meet and taste during the Sidra Talks conference held in Ponte de Lima last week. I also brought some bottles back home, of course.
It turns out that in the rural areas of northern Portugal, cider or “vinho de maça” was a traditional and protected product not so long time ago. The budget of the town of Ponte de Lima in 1893 establishes a tax on the liter of “vinho verde” (green wine) and “vinho de maça” (apple wine) at 7.5 “réis”, while spirits and aged wine paid 45. Apparently, cider in the area of Minho was drank to celebrate the harvest, during the festivals in September, when there was no wine left in the barrels.
The craft cider revolution has come to Portugal to stay. A brand called Corrupia was a pioneer, although nothing is known about them after being acquired by an investor. Now they are followed by others, that use forgotten local varieties (porta da loja, pipo de basto) as well as eating and cooking apples (granny smith, pippin, royal gala) to produce both modern or traditional style ciders and some perry. I wish them a promising future. Saúde!