An Asturian Cider Lexicon
While certainly not a complete lexicon of Asturian words and phrases concerning the drinking of cider, this is a fairly complete one for the purposes of standardized tasting. It is meant to accompany my Cider Evaluation Standard and A Cider Tasting Methodology. My sincere hope is that it will attract enough attention outside of Asturias to make this unique style of cider making more widely appreciated.
This lexicon is based on both the common English language vocabularies for describing the organoleptic qualities of beers and wines (where appropriate) and the traditional Asturian vocabulary for describing sidra natural. This is not meant to be a guide for all cider types. It is intended solely for describing Asturian (and by extension Basque) ciders. As such it is constrained to the vocabulary common to those types of traditional ciders.
When I have included words in Asturian, they are italicized and noted as to whether it is a (positive) or (negative) quality of the cider when its use is not purely descriptive. As is to be expected, this is a work in progress. All errors in translation are my own, and I hope that anyone who can offer correction or clarification on any point does so.
I have arranged the terms in categories that reflect my evaluation categories. I hope you find them informative and useful.
Asturians put great stock in the proper appearance and presentation of the cider. Perhaps more so than anywhere else I’ve ever drunk cider. For that reason, there is a well-developed vocabulary in Asturias for describing the visual aspects of sidra natural.
For the most part we are talking about still (uncarbonated) cider, so we must ignore the standard nomenclature used for carbonated beverages, and instead defer to the traditional Asturian ways of describing the action of introducing bubbles into the cider before it is drunk. For more on this process, see Escanciar.
Axiblantáu – (negative) An excess of carbon dioxide, over carbonated.
Desvanecíu – (negative) Very little carbon dioxide, which dissipates too quickly.
Espalmar – To “raise the bubbles in the glass” To agitate the cider (usually by pouring in the traditional escanciando way).
Espalme – The effects of espalmar on the cider. This is the most discussed part of Asturian cider drinking.
Espoleta – (negative) A synonym of Volador.
Muertu – (negative) Unacceptably low carbon dioxide and/or alcohol.
Panizal – (positive) Lively carbon dioxide.
Plasmáu – (negative) No detectable carbon dioxide.
Volador – (negative) Overly carbonated, to the point of potential flying corks.
Granu – (positive) Having many tiny bubbles that adhere to the side of glass.
Pegue – The thin film that adheres to the glass after it is drunk. The more legs the better.
Llandiu (negative) – A thin, emotionless cider that has not finished its maturation.
Machu – A cider with a large quantity of volatile acids, making a very prickly sensation in the mouth.
Basic Cider Flavors
Agüina – (negative) Flat and lacking alcohol.
Alma – Sufficient alcohol and espalme.
Blandu – (negative) Low alcohol and flat, perhaps from an error in production.
Encabezáu – (negative) “Fortified” Having had additional alcohol added to the fermentation, resulting in not just higher alcohol content, but negatively effecting the other qualities of the cider.
Verdín – (negative) Excessive flavors of unripe apples, or of apple wood.
Adelantáu – (negative) A cider that has excessive acetic acid, and is becoming vinegary.
Duru – (negative) A synonym of Adelantáu.
Fema – (negative) Undetectable or unacceptably low amounts of acetic acid.
pa la fábrica – (negative) Too acidic; good only for making vinegar.
Resquemor – (negative) Already vinegar, or even beyond. Attacks the tongue.
Dulcín – (negative) Overly sweet cider as a result of being insufficiently fermented.
de restallu – (negative?) Strongly astringent, mouth puckering. Onomatopoeia for the sound you make when you smack your lips from something tannic.
Secante – (positive) Refreshingly dry, stimulating to the palate.
Aromas & Flavors
Ablanáu – An aftertaste of roasted hazelnuts.
Tastu – (negative) A moldy aroma and taste, usually imparted by old, poorly washed, wooden barrels
Turrín – the flavor of toasted hazelnuts
Aguya – (negative) Very young cider (one or two weeks fermentation) that is super sweet and full of carbon dioxide.
Fechu – (neutral/positive) A full bodied cider with high alcohol content and a strong flavor.
Finu – (positive) A cider that is clean, clear, and balanced. The ideal cider profile.
Floxu – (negative) Insipid.
Mui fechu – (negative) Overly strong and becoming vinegary. “Gone off”.
Puxarra – (negative) A cider of generally bad quality.
Tienru – (negative) Low alcohol and flat, from not being fermented long enough. “Too young”.