This week, we’re delving into the mysterious job role of water sommelier. Yes, you heard correctly, a sommelier for water. Usually a sommelier is a wine professional, who specialises in all elements of wine service and taste, as well as which wine suits specified food, a water sommelier does the same job… but for water! It takes years to qualify as a water sommelier and, frankly, we’re too lazy, but we asked a water sommelier to give us the basics of water tasting, and this is what they told us…
The taste of water
|We’re dropping some water science on you
Now I see your wrinkled brow, ‘the taste of water?’, you say, ‘but water doesn’t taste of anything?’. According to those in the h20 know, you’d be wrong on that count. Water sommeliers state that water tastes different depending on the region and depth from which it comes from. As water falls, it filters through layers of earth, and picks up different minerals along the way, these vary according to location, and affect the taste of the water itself.
Now, all waters have a different Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) levels, this refers to any minerals, salts, or metals that are dissolved in your water, TDS levels vary from very low (10-40), to very high (around 7000). Water with a higher TDS level contains larger amounts of minerals such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium. These additions make your water taste harder, and occasionally saltier.
|Looks like a solid glass of artesian water to us…
Advertising tells us that the best water is the purest, filtered and chilled to within an inch of its life. However, our water sommelier rates this type of water very lowly. Water with removed impurities is referred to as distilled water. This is achieved by boiling the water, and condensing the steam into a clean container. This results in a very bland tasting beverage. Long term consumption of distilled water is not recommended, as it can lead to mineral deficiencies.
Mass produced waters, such as the type you find in plastic bottles in the supermarket, are referred to as purified water. These originate from a municipal source, and are filtered to remove impurities and minerals via reverse osmosis. These can taste bland due to their low TDS levels, but work well with salads, as they don’t overpower the flavours.
Another water we all will have heard of, with more than 3000 brands currently available, is mineral water. This is water that originates from natural springs or a geologically and physically protected underground water source, and must have a TDS level of at least 250.
Other types of water include artesian water (tapped from an artesian aquifer), well water (water pumped from the ground mechanically), rain water (this can be bottled for very low mineral tap water), iceberg water (water from melted icebergs), glacier water (water tapped from glaciers), and deep sea water (water sourced from the bottom of the ocean floor).
How do I upgrade my water?
Are you looking at your sad bottle of supermarket water, and wishing you could upgrade? Never fear, water sommelier, Michael Mascha, has created an online encyclopaedia of bottled water, he provides details about their recommended temperature, origin, and what food they are best served with. It’s called FineWaters, and you can find it here.
Has our blog inspired you to change up your career to be a water sommelier? Or is this a lot of faff about nothing? Let us know in the comments!