CIDER THROWING isn’t a Dorset thing. Not yet, anyway.
I say not yet, because I suspect it’s one of those things that – once you’ve seen it done, or even just read about it – you’ll feel irresistibly impelled to try yourself.
Probably when you’ve already had a bit of cider… which could actually be a bad time to start because your hand wouldn’t be so steady… but anyway…
What is cider throwing?
It’s the art of pouring cider from bottle to glass from a height of about three feet.
The body has to be straight but not rigid.
The arm that holds the bottle has to be stretched over the head; the arm that holds the glass has to be stretched downwards in the centre of the body.
Why? Because it aerates the cider. It enhances the bouquet and the natural carbonation; it produces the gas Spaniards call “estrella” (star).
I only know this because there’s going to be a demonstration of cider throwing in the Orchards and Cider pavilion at The Royal Bath & West show on Thursday, 3 June, and the Royal Bath & West has told me about it.
The custom in Asturia, once cider has been thrown, is to pass the glass quickly from hand to hand.
It’s also usual, apparently, to add a word of warning: “Cider oxidises quickly so the whole bottle should be consumed in one sitting.”
But, somehow, I suspect that consuming a whole bottle is never that much of a problem.
If you want to have a go at throwing yourself some cider, here are some more tips, courtesy of the Bath & West Show and the Spanish regulatory body the Denominacion de Origen Sidra de Asturias.
The organoleptic theory
The flow of the cider has to break against the rim of the glass. In this way, the air mixes with the carbon dioxide of the cider and the organoleptic characteristics of the cider, such as taste and perfume, became significant and are released. (I like the word organoleptic).
The ideal way to validate the importance of pouring the cider from a height is to drink a small amount both with and without pouring in this way. The difference is noted by the appearance of bubbles and a “shine” to the cider that is poured from a height and the flatness of one poured in the conventional way.
How to pour cider in the correct way?
Corporal posture should be firm, but not rigid.
The bottle should be sustained with the arm outstretched above the head.
The arm holding the glass should be extended downwards and orientated towards the middle of the body.
The body of the bottle should be sustained by the first, second and ring finger, with the little finger on the bottom.
The glass should be held by the thumb and first finger with the second finger on the bottom of the glass. The ring finger and the little finger should be folded over the palm of the hand.
The glass should not be displaced from the center of the body as this indicates that the cider should find the glass.
The cork should be held by the ring and little finger of the hand holding the glass.
On serving the glass of cider, the thumb is removed to facilitate the service.
The person serving the glass of cider should always attempt to prevent frothing of the cider poured.
How is cider drunk?
The glass of cider should be swallowed rapidly (not as a shot, for example of whisky). The cider will loose its spark and organoleptic qualities due to the traditional way of pouring if sipped or swallowed slowly.
Why are few drops of cider finally left and thrown from the glass?
Last part of the cider in the glass is emptied onto the floor. This is traditionally linked to the consumption of cider in Asturias.
This peculiarity is due to:
Ancestral tradition – whereby part of the cider is returned to the earth in gesture of gratitude for her generosity.
A question of hygiene – traditionally everybody drinks from the same glass, and the last drops of cider are used to clean the glass by throwing on the floor in readiness for the next drinker.
This is a part of cider culture. Using the same glass we are all equal. This act becomes a social event inducing conversation, reunion with friends etc.
This all takes place in a friendly and tranquil atmosphere in the pubs of each locality.