A New Year’s Tradition – Cider (Sidra) vs Sparkling Wine

Cider is a beverage prepared from pressed apples, with alcohol contents ranging from 0% to 12%.  In Europe, cider has been known since the times of Ancient Rome and Greece, and it is enjoyed year-round in many countries, from Portugal, to Germany; the top consumers are currently The United Kingdom and Spain.  Hence, it is not surprising that the beverage is also popular in some of their former colonies, such as South Africa, Australia, Canada, The United States, Latin America, and The Philippines.  In Mexico, hard apple cider – sidra in Spanish – has traditionally been the bubbly of choice for the New Year’s toast, although nowadays, many families go for champagne or other sparkling wines.  I asked some of my friends and relatives in Mexico which one they prefer, and it was close to a 50-50 response, plus one said “neither”.   Some of the reasons to choose sidra are tradition, affordability, and an alcohol content typically around 5% for Mexican sidras (versus 12% for champagne),  low enough that everyone may be allowed a little sip, even children (Oops, not that I would have known growing up in Mexico! LOL ). 

In Central Mexico, Zacatlán, one of Mexico’s “Magic Towns” in the Mexican state of Puebla, is famous for its sidra, and “everything apple”; the local annual “Feria de la manzana” – “Apple Fair” went virtual this past August, due to the pandemic, but last November, the city hosted its “14° Feria de la Sidra” – “14th Cider Fair”, as always in the outdoor venue of its zócalo (main square), this year following social distancing and other health and safety protocols.  The city is surrounded by orchards with over one million fruit trees, around two thirds being apple trees; about 10,000 tons of apples are processed to make cider each year, sold mostly in December, in time for the holidays.  The cider is bottled and wrapped with foil like other sparkling beverages, prepared purely with apples (photo below, left), or flavoured with other fruits and aromatics (photo below, right):

In Canada, champagne and other sparkling wines are the norm for the New Year’s toast, but cider is popular and may be found as: unfiltered freshly pressed sweet apple cider (photo below, left), non-alcoholic sparkling juice (photo below, centre), or hard apple cider, bottled or in cans (photo below, right):

As I mentioned almost exactly a year ago, technically the 2010s decade will actually end on December 31, 2020; it is the same counting issue that was debated at the end of 1999, when the great majority of people celebrated the beginning of a new Century and Millennium, a whole year earlier than the actual event (January 1st, 2001), since there is no Year Zero in the timeline of the BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini) system.  This system was invented in the year AD 525 by Dionysius Exiguus, a monk during the time of the Roman Empire. The Roman numeral system, which was still in use then, has no concept of zero. Thus, the day after December 31, 1 BC was January 1st, 1 AD.  Although within a popular context, the beginning of a new decade, century or millennium are associated with years ending in zeros (2020, 2000, etc.), and many celebrated it as so last year, this seems like a good opportunity to write-off this ridiculously crazy, almost surreal, year of 2020, which has left us asking What Next??! I say, let’s have a second-chance toast of hope for a brighter, healthier, more peaceful decade, starting in 2021!

When my daughters were little, we used to have non-alcoholic sparkling apple juice for our New Year’s toast; once they started going out with friends a few years ago, it has been usually just my husband and me celebrating at home, having a sip of sparkling wine/champagne to go with the traditional choice in Canada.  This year will not feel too different, then, in spite of the girls being both abroad, or the pandemic lockdown restrictions, although we might break from (Canadian) tradition and go for some cider, or even one of my husband’s own version of the “Ol’ Blue Eyes” cocktail:

Ol’ Blue Eyes Martini (photo from my husband, 2019)

What is the most traditional or popular New Year’s Eve drink in your country, or for your family?  What will you choose this year?

¡Feliz Año Nuevo 2021!             Happy New Year 2021!


I am joining Fiesta Friday #361 with Angie @ Fiesta Friday.


I am sharing this post at Thursday Favourite Things #470, with Bev @ Eclectic Red Barn, Pam @ An Artful Mom, Katherine @ Katherine’s Corner, Amber @ Follow the Yellow Brick Home, Theresa @ Shoestring Elegance and Linda @ Crafts a la Mode.


I am also sharing this post at  Full Plate Thursday #517 with Miz Helen @ Miz Helen’s Country Cottage

19 thoughts on “A New Year’s Tradition – Cider (Sidra) vs Sparkling Wine

  1. I have to go down to the basement to check my supplies; thanks for the reminder! We have the same family tradition. Most years now it’s non-alcoholic. Last year I was able to find some from Spain that was very dry, almost like what we got in New York City while I was a child.

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  2. In Wisconsin, USA, champagne is popular. We usually have non-alcoholic cider when we’re awake at midnight for the occasion! Oddly in the US, we have the habit of calling pressed apple juice with pulp, cider. We call hot apple juice, cider. Cider doesn’t have the alcoholic connotation necessarily. So, when I was in London at a celebration for my sister’s wedding I offered a pregnant woman cider, which she refused until I specified it was hot apple juice. Not always the same words for the same items both sides of the pond, ha ha. Noche de rábanos is up on Fake Flamenco, thanks to your post last week. : ) Happy New Year, Irene!

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  3. Very interesting article, Irene. Hard cider has become my brew of choice when out and about and sometimes at home during hot weather. Not that hepped about any in aluminum cans, glass is preferred. Didn’t realize Mexico had a cider hub like it does. Ol’ Blue Eyes looks like a tasty sipper for New Year’s Eve. Neither of my sons drinks alcohol so they’ll be drinking the usual. I have gotten into the habit of cream liquer (sp?) as creamer for hot tea so that’s what I’ll be sipping 🙂

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  4. In the UK it is champagne or Prosecco although taste wise British sparkling wine is now outclassing many of the traditional french champagnes at the same price points. Our cider or Perry (made with pears) is enjoying a bit of a revival from the 80/90’s when it was pretty awful stuff. Craft cider and Perry is coming back and they are even starting to make some in the champagnoise method which would be good for new year.

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  5. I’m not sure I’ve had the bubbly alcohol variety of cider. I may go with some Proseco this year instead of champagne. I won’t be up until midnight, though! And then I’m going “dry” for January.

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    1. I am sure I will get the good vibe from your thoughts early on December 31, and then, I will be thinking of you at midnight, hoping you get it back on your New Year’s day. Thank you and Feliz Año Nuevo, Tracy!

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  6. Best wishes for 2021 to you.

    This year I could have done with a bubbly, but I thought about it too late. So I had to fake one with: sparkling water and a rose, equal measures. The dilution was deemed sufficient that people who do not (or do not like to) drink could do a toast. I suppose one could improve it if one thinks about it a little, but I would prefer to go with a cider.

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