Contribution to define what is the cider (Eng).
That obviously is the contribution of a Cornouaillais (in Brittany).
If we ask ourselves about the meaning of the word cider, we should not only focus on the ways of making it. In fact cider, as many other products with a long history, belongs at the same time to the environmental field, to a business community and to a cultural reality. It is thus important to know what is the message one finds in this apple wine known as cider today. Indeed, along with wine and beer, cider is one of the drinks created at the very early days of humanity and they have reached us with their history.
Wine has replaced mead, the drink of the gods (now almost forgotten) to become the drink of the ruling elites, served in the finest crystal glasses. Beer can be prepared anywhere and at any time, if you know how to keep and transport the grain. So, it became the drink of urban assemblies and is served in large pints. Cider remained the drink of the rural population who live in harmony with the cycle of the seasons, and served in cups designed by craftsmen.
The apple drink is renewed every year just after the harvest, in a slow process, according to the local traditions. The first ones who drink it are those who produce it, often Epicure followers. Cider comes from the apple (the fruit of knowledge, of magic or of divination, depending on what you believe in), harvested in the shade of green and peaceful orchards conveying the image of the Garden of Eden. For the Bretons the apple tree is the link to the other world. That’s why King Arhur and his warriors, are not buried, but rest in the island of Avalon(1). That’s also why, in his poem Afallenu(2) Myrddin (Marzhin) the bard who celebrates his friends killed in the battle of Arderyd(3), in 573, begins each of the ten stanzas, with the word afallen(4). Therefore, we can argue that cider is neither a drink for the Royal court, nor an urban drink, but the drink of the landscapes. In many occasions, several cider makers in the world told me that cider is the drink of freedom. It is thus very important to keep this in mind when defining the value of its name.
Moreover, we should not become confused because of the supposed origin of the word. According to French dictionaries, which all give: “drink made with fermented apple juice”, the word would find its originate in the Christian Latin Sīcera(5) ( fermented drink). This form would have become cisera in vulgar Latin and the word would have spread in Gaul throughout monasteries. The specialization of the meaning would have been made in Normandy, and from there in France as a whole. It is obviously a French story, not taking into account the rest of the world. However, we know that a few decades B.C., Strabon was writing that apple wine was the typical drink of the région called Asturias(6) today, where later people adopted the word Sizra(7) which became Sidra at the end of the 15th century. And we also know that the Breton Navy have shipped for a long time a large part of the traffic on the western seas of Europe. The North of the Iberian Peninsula was a well-known destination. Texts show that Normans and Bretons went to these regions to take transplants of bitter apples(9). The sailors obviously adopted the word Sidra and doubtless spread it further North. In the 15th century, the Citre(10) was named Sistr in Breton, while one century later, the Nomenclator(11) gives: “Sicera, vinum è pomis factitium(12) : sidre : sidr, sistr”.
The third difficulty is the problem of the definition of the word Wine. In several regions, such as the Hesse area in Germany with apfelwein, the North of Italy with Vino di Mela(13) or the Basque Country with Sagardo, the term apple wine is still used. If tradition is not the same everywhere, it’s always a fermented drink, mainly no-sparkling, produced from fresh apples. Although the traditions of Apfelwein in Germany and Sagardo in Basque Country, existed before the modern definition of the word Wine was given, their translation in apple wine is inconsistent with the OIV(14) definition recognized in many jurisdictions. It’s easy to understand that for these regions it is necessary to connect without ambiguity the word cider with the notion of fresh apple.
In many territories it’s difficult to agree on the meaning of the word cider. On a larger scale, we can imagine that a common definition for cider will not be simple. My opinion is that it’s necessary to take into account the message of serenity, sharing and respect, carried by cider before trying to protect, at all costs, the traditional orchard(15), because it’s at the same time a source of supply for cider, and an opportunity for a planet which is increasingly threatened by desertification. In this way the best is to keep the name cider, for the drinks obtained only with fresh apples.
Mark Gleonec – Kroaz Avaloù – Breizh.
• 1 – Avalon: apple tree in ancient Celtic language.
• 2 – Afallenu: (apple trees in old Breton language), in Black Book Of Carmarthen – National Library of Wales.
• 3 – Located near Carlsile (Cumbria). not far from the frontier with Scotland.
• 4 – Afallen: one apple-tree in old Breton language.
• 5 – In The Gospel of Saint-Luc (1-15), it is written: he will not drink wine nor of strong drink (sīcera), which is not specifically a drink of apple, and would be transcribed from biblical Hebrew šekar (fermented drink, strong liqueur).
• 6 – www.sidradeasturias.es.
• 7 – Vida de Santo Domingo de Silos, Gonzalo de Berceo (13th century).
• 8 – It would be interesting to look for Celte-Ibère, Roman, Visigothic, Arabic, Breton and Spanish influences, as many maritime zones, were and are still sometimes, places of traffic, conquest, migration or holiday resort.
• 9 – Marin-Onfroy, Lord of Saint-Laurent-Sur-Mer brought back the variety Marin-Onfroy, at the beginning of the 16th century. In Pomme et cidre – M. Bruneau & B. Genier, (1996).
• 10 – Catholicon, Jehan Lagadec (1499).
• 11 – Nomeclator Latin-French-Breton, Guillaume Quiquer de Roscoff (1633).
• 12 – Wine of fruit which is made by hand, and not by nature (Pline), Indiculus Universalis, P.F. Pomey (1856).
• 13 – A few years ago, Italians adopted: Cidro di Mela.
• 14 – The French Law Griffe, of August 14th, 1889, reserves the name Wine for the exclusive products made from the fermentation of fresh grape or fresh grape juice. Since then, this rule has become widespread. For the International Office of Vineyard and Wine (OIV), wine is exclusively the result of a complete or partial alcoholic fermentation of fresh grape, or of grape must.
• 15 – Obviously operated differently according to the traditions of every terroir.