Is Cider Beer Or Wine?

Cider, cider or sidra – there are many names for apple sparkling wines in the world. In many regions, the alcoholic soft drink is seen as a real alternative to our much-loved beer. Although it can not quite keep up with the importance of the beer in this country, but we find that the trend drink Cider is well worth a closer look; after all, a certain similarity to beer can not be denied.

What is Cider?

Whether cider, cidre or sidra – the basic principle is the same: all the different names are always the name for apple sparkling wine. The basic ingredient for all varieties is our esteemed apple. By fermentation, the fruit juice of the apple then turns into alcoholic and carbonated wine. This is also possible with other types of fruit and is often practiced. Although apple cider is still the most popular and widely used variety, the pear is also ideal for fermentation and is quite popular as a perry or pear cider.

Where does the term “cider” come from?

Cider has been known around the world for centuries. The first lore comes from Herodotus, a Greek historian who reports on a people in Asia Minor near Side in modern-day Turkey. This people pressed apples to make a tasty drink. The name Side goes back to the Greek word for pomegranate and is based on an interesting story from mythology. It is believed that the word also influenced the root word for cider, cidre or sidra.

The Greek goddess of fertility, named Side, picked flowers along with her daughter and some nymphs on the banks of the Manavgat, near today’s Side. She discovered a tree that had beautiful flowers and branches. Side broke off one of the thin branches and the tree started to bleed. Only then did she realize that the alleged tree was actually a nymph that had become a camouflage in order not to be recognized by humans. Side wanted to escape the nymph’s revenge, but she did not succeed. Her feet drove roots into the ground and she gradually turned into a tree. Full of grief over the fate of Sides, the other nymphs watered their roots with their tears. Side acknowledged her mistake and decreed that her daughter should often come to play with her and never pick a flower – it could hide a transformed goddess behind it. With her blood-red fruit, she is from now on a symbol of nature.

Further mention is made of the drink by the Roman scholar Pliny, who reports on wine from pears and apples. The drink was popular in many cultures: as Sydre in the Basque Country, as Shekar or Sekar in the Hebrew-speaking world. In addition, Cider was already part of a manor regulation of Charlemagne. And also Johanns Ohneland – better known as Prince John from the Robin Hood saga – should have been a real cider lover. In the following, we would like to take a closer look at the manufacturing process.

Step by step to tingling cider

For centuries cider has been manufactured in a virtually unchanged process. Regional manufacturing peculiarities as well as the technical possibilities changed the process slightly; however, the principle remained the same. I will try to explain step by step how the apple becomes the popular alcoholic refreshment drink.

In the beginning is the apple

The basic ingredient of any good cider is the apple. In autumn, the harvest season begins, in which also the production of cider gets into gear. The selection of tasty apples should not be left to chance: the dessert apples available in our supermarkets are only partially suitable for the production. A high tannin content (vegetable tannins) for the bitterness and a low-acid, fibrous fruit make cider only the savory beverage that is so popular around the world. Not every apple offers these qualities.

Also important is the right combination of sweet, bitter and sour apples. At best, not only a single flavor should stand out, but the right balance of different varieties should contribute to the unique taste of apple sparkling wine. But what types of tastes must the different apples have for the production of cider?

• sweet: low acidity and tannin content
• bitter: high tannin content, low acidity
• acidic: high acidity, low tannin

Which apple varieties are used depends on both the region and the winemaker. Thus, the Hessian Äppelwoi is produced with apples from orchards; the Saarland Viez with crab apples; South African cider maker Savanna, on the other hand, uses Granny Smith apples.

Pressing apples

Once you have met your selection of sweet, bitter and sour apples, you can start making it. The apples are first washed and then pressed to obtain the valuable apple juice. Then the apple juice is filled into fermenting tanks – barrels or special glass balloons: The fermentation can begin.In the industrial production the apples are processed by means of large presses. The apples are tamped and a mass is produced, which is called mash, just like beer. Then the mash reaches the press, the juice is extracted and the fermentation begins.


Although apples contain native yeasts, in today’s industrial production, additional, special, top-fermenting yeasts are added, which initiate and optimize the apple juice fermentation process. This happens at relatively low temperatures around 15 ° C. The added yeasts convert the sugar contained in the juice into alcohol and carbon dioxide. After some time, the residues of the fruit and most of the yeasts sink to the bottom.


Even before all the sugar molecules have been converted, the pre-fermented fruit juice is transferred to other fermentation tanks. This leaves a large part of the added yeasts in the old vessel. The containers are sealed airtight, the remaining yeasts ferment the remaining sugar in the juice. It forms carbonic acid and the cider remains durable. If a winemaker wants to make carbonic acid free cider, he lets it escape through fermentation vials. To achieve a higher alcohol content, you can also add sugar.

After the fermentation

After much of the sugar has been transformed during fermentation, the cider is often quite sour and tart. To bring more sweetness into the drink, then not fermentable sugar is added. In addition, the cider is often additionally mixed with carbonic acid, in particular in industrial production, in order to ensure the known liveliness of the beverage. Now the cider is ready for bottling.

Bottle fermentation

A special process for producing cider is bottle fermentation. Part of the fermentation already takes place in the bottle. When the first step of fermentation has been completed, the cider is bottled to ferment the remaining sugar in the bottle. In this step, not as much pressure is released as at the beginning of the fermentation process, so the bottles are hermetically sealed and the yeasts go to work. After several weeks have passed, the remaining yeast is transported by shaking it into the neck of the bottle and the yeast plug is removed. Depending on your preference, the cider is now stored between several weeks and several months or in exceptional cases even for a few years. The French apple cidre Bouché and the Spanish sidra método tradicional are still produced in this way and are characterized by their particularly high quality.

Cider, Cidre, Sidra: What’s the difference?

The different names for ciders have sometimes caused confusion. It is very easy: Depending on the country of manufacture Cider has a different regional name. After all, beer is not always beer, but also Beer, Birra, Bière or Cerveza. We bring a little light into the darkness with the following overview and also clarify the regional characteristics of the alcoholic soft drink.

  Region Alcohol
Cider Great Britain
4–12 Vol.-% Classifications Dry: dry Fruity: fruity Sweet: sweet Sparkling: with a lot of carbon dioxide Lightly: little alcohol Medium: medium
Cidre France 2–5 Vol.-% Classifications Cider Brut: herb with approx. 5 Vol .-% Cider Doux: sweet with approx. 2.5 Vol .-% Cidre Demi-Sec: half-sweet with about 3-5% by volume Cider Basque: natural cider that resembles the hessian Äppelwoi Cider Breton: Sweet apple wine from Brittany Cider Bouché: bottle fermentation Cider Traditionnel: without the addition of artificial yeasts
Sidra Spain
(especially Asturias, Basque Country)
2–5 Vol.-% Classifications Sidra Amante: wholly aromatic Sidra Blanda: low alcohol content Sidra Cantarina: highest quality Sidra Dulcina: sweet with a high content of residual sugar Sidra Fecha or Machu: dry, full-flavored, with high alcohol content Sidra Tierna: bottled before completion of the fermentation Sidra Natural: natural cider that resembles the hessian Äppelwoi
Äppelwoi Germany
(especially Hesse)
5–7 Vol.-% Classifications Non-carbonated cider: tart, sour taste
Viez Germany
(especially Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland)
5–11 Vol.-% Classifications Non-carbonated cider: tart, sour taste
Most Southern Germany
5–8 Vol.-% Classifications Low carbonated cider: tart, sour taste
In Lower Austria: Mild – Half Mild – Strongly

Cider from England and Ireland

British and Irish apple ciders, with an alcohol content of up to 12% by volume, are significantly stronger than their counterparts in other countries. Mostly they contain less carbonic acid. Whether dry, medium or fruity – all flavor classifications can be combined well with each other. You get a semi-dry cider, if this is classified as medium dry.

Cidre from France

The French cider is mainly produced in Normandy and Brittany. If it is fermented in the bottle, it is called Cider Bouché. It also serves as the starting point for the spirits Calvados, which are distilled from apple cider. The French cider is given a special flavor because it is removed from the yeast several times during fermentation. These interruptions support the fine and tasty note of French cider. In addition, it is usually given more time for fermentation than it is the case with apple sparkling wines from other regions. An apple cider may well be in a fermentation tank for several months – especially noble drops even up to several years.

Sidra from Spain

Produced and drunk specifically in the Basque Country and in Asturias, the Spanish Sidra is similar to its French neighbor and very popular in the two regions. In the Asturian Sidrerias, the sidra is either tapped fresh from the barrel or served in the traditional way: the waiter holds the bottle with one arm as high as possible; in the other hand, he holds the glass or cup down as far as he can. In this position, he gives the tasty Sidra. That something goes wrong, is common. Traditional Sidrerias can still be recognized by the fact that there is sawdust on the floors, which serve to absorb the spilled apple sparkling wine.

In the Basque Country, Sidra is also called Sagardo in the regional language. The restaurants in which the Sagardo is served call themselves Sagardotegi. Even the Basque Sidra has a long tradition in the region and is duly honored: So it can happen in a Sagardotegi quite on the exclamation “TXOTX!” All willing drinkers on their way to the barrel to make their glasses being filled with the golden Sagardo. Here, either the first guest who reaches the barrel, or the owner himself serves the tap and gives to all other guests.

Äppelwoi from Hesse

As part of Hessen’s drinking culture, the Äppelwoi, Ebbelwoi or Äbbelwoi is the German counterpart to the English apple cider or French cidre. It differs from them in that it allows the carbonic acid that forms during fermentation to escape. It is fermented from acidic apples, which are rather unsuitable for normal consumption. As a result, it tastes comparatively dry and sour. In contrast to normal wines, the cider with 5 to 7 Vol .-% also has a relatively low alcohol content.

Viez from Rhineland-Palatinate and the Saarland

In the western Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland, the Hessian cider is known under the name Viez. It is usually made from small, sour, aromatic apples – crayfish or crab apples – that are not very suitable for consumption, but produce a lot of must. Unlike in other regions, the starting material is called “must” before fermentation – the freshly pressed apple juice.

Most in southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland

In southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland you will find the finished cider under the name Most. The unfermented juice is here called Süßmost. In addition to the apple, the pear is also used in these regions for making must.

Cider varieties

The basic ingredients for the classic cider are apples or rather apple juice, which transforms into a sparkling refreshing drink through fermentation. As the pear can also be fermented excellently, pear cider (Pear Cider, Perry) is one of the best-known and most widely used apple varieties. To produce exceptional flavors, it is also possible to ferment other fruits and combine them with the classic recipe.

For particularly fruity notes cider manufacturers provide them by fermenting berries and mix them with cider from apples. These berry ciders are characterized not only by a reddish color, but also by their sweetish taste. So there are now ciders with strawberries, blackberries and forest fruits. Even cider from elderflower have found their way into the offer of many manufacturers.

Beer, wine, cider, apple juice: decisive differences

Is cider something akin to beer, or rather a kind of apple juice? And what differentiates apple sparkling wines from conventional wines? So that you know in the future, we explain to you here, what connects the drinks mentioned and what makes them different.

Beer and Cider: What separates them and what unites them

It is often mistakenly assumed that cider is a type of beer. Although beer and cider have some similarities, but the relationship is not as close as expected.


In the production of both beer and cider yeasts are used, which convert sugar into carbonic acid and alcohol.

Beer: In the case of beer, the sugar is extracted from the malting barley used. During the malting, the grain is transformed into barley malt. The contained starch is then broken down into sugar molecules in the mash process. This allows the bottom-fermented or top-fermented yeast to start the conversion process.

Cider: In cider-making, however, the sugar is already present in the fruits, so it can easily be converted by the existing or added top-fermenting yeasts.


In particular, their experience in British pubs has many laymen suspect that cider could be a beer style. Because on the British island cider is just as popular as the cool blonde, which is why in almost every pub next to the beer tap, a tap for cider is installed at the counter. In addition, it is served in the UK just like beer in a pint glass.

Alcohol content

Although British cider specialties can also have a higher alcohol content, this is at the level of beer for most ciders, namely 4 to 5% by volume.

Production method

Apart from the use of yeast, the processes for producing beer and cider are completely different. While cider is produced by the fermentation of apple juice, brewing requires numerous steps that transform grain into beer with a complex technique.

Wine and cider: the fruit comparison

Unlike beer, cider has a lot in common with wine. For good reason, the German term apple sparkling wine is the synonym for this tangy drink. In both wine and cider, fruit juice is fermented to an alcoholic liquid. The process is very similar; only the ingredients differ from each other – in the case of cider it is apples, in wine, however, grapes. In addition, the carbonic acid in sparkling wine, champagne or sparkling wine is only obtained by a second alcoholic fermentation or by bottle fermentation. In classic winemaking, the winemaker lets the carbon dioxide escape, so that the wine finally does not pearl anymore.

Apple juice and cider: The alcohol makes the difference

With its sweet and fruity taste, apple juice has been a popular drink for young and old for centuries. In contrast to the cider, the pressed apple juice is not fermented. In order to prevent the fermentation process, it is pasteurized after pressing – thus heated to around 80° C, which kills microorganisms, including yeasts.

In cider production, this process should take place, in which the sugar in the juice is converted to alcohol and carbon dioxide. In addition, today cider is still made from fresh apples, whereas the industrially processed apple juice is often made with the help of apple juice concentrate. Who prefers the fresh variant, should resort to direct juice.

How is cider drunk? In…

Beer glasses are not just a science in themselves. Even when you enjoy apple sparkling wines, gourmets look for the right drinking vessel. But unlike beer, the choice of the right glass or cup is not dependent on the variety, but mainly on a regional basis.

…Great Britain

In British pubs, apple cider is tapped like beer. Even when drinking the British make no difference and drink both from a pint glass. With more than half a liter capacity, the same as with the barley juice is filled to just below the edge.


French apple cider is traditionally drunk from small cups or bowls – the Bolées, short: Bol. French swear by the pleasure of the small ceramic vessels. The aroma of the cider should develop better in this and the Bolées thus provide a fuller flavor.

What are your experiences with cider and what are your thoughts on the topic, feel free to share them in the comment box below.

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