Take Two®

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

How to properly taste water: Pro tips from a water sommelier

by Jacob Margolis and Michelle Lanz | Take Two®

Beverly Hills 9OH2O is the world’s first sommelier-crafted water. Limited edition bottles sell for $14 each.” beverlywater.com

If water is more than a billion years old and trapped deep underground, it's bound to taste a lot different than a bottle of Evian. But what about other waters? Is there that much difference between FIJI and Aquafina?

Water sommelier Martin Riese, creator of Beverly Hills 9OH2O says you shouldn't settle for tap water, "Especially when you're enjoying a beautiful bottle of wine. You don't want to have this chlorine taste destroying the whole bottle of wine."

High-end water is popular in Riese's home country Germany, where restaurant work is serious business. In Los Angeles, a gig as a waiter or waitress is usually seen as a side career, but in Germany Riese says people go to school for years before beginning a career in serving. 

"There's sommelier schools and even programs for water," said Riese. "Five years ago I started my water menu in Germany, and wrote a book about different mineral waters. Suddenly, the media attention came to me and said 'you're really a water sommelier.'"

Riese brought by some of his 90H2O water to demonstrate why the taste of water you're drinking is as important as even the finest wine. 

Interview Highlights:

On why waters have different flavors:
"The fun thing is that water at its basis is always the same, because it's rain water. It really depends to what layers of minerals this rain water is dropping through. So that means that in the western part of Germany, we have volcanic reactions, so therefore our layers are way more pristine with minerals and mineral content than in the east part of Germany. So in the west part of Germany, waters are way more stronger in taste than the east part of Germany. Then you can taste the water, with a tap water, a 'Roi' water from Europe, and H2O, and they all taste completely different"

On how to taste and describe different waters:
"Like wine, you're doing it from light to heavy. Because white wines are light and red wines are heavy. The same with water. 'Light' is more like less minerals. So like, Fiji, they're light mineral waters. It can be bitter. It can be salty. It can be very smooth. It can be chlorine. This is not what you're looking for when you're tasting water. You don't want chlorine in your water taste, especially when you're enjoying a beautiful bottle of wine. You don't want to have this chlorine taste destroying the whole profile of the wine."

On which bottled waters are his favorite (besides 9OH2O):
"There are several, actually. I love Iskilde, it's a Danish water. It's 8,500 years old, so not 1.2 billion years old like you described. It has a very sweet and smooth taste as well, and the funny is that there's a lot of oxygen in it by itself already. So when you're shaking the bottle, it almost gets milky. I love Vichy Catalan, it's a Catalian water from the Northern part of Barcelona. It's a very high content of mineral water with a lot of acid and saltiness to it. It's my workout water, kind of. I love that when I'm going to the gym, that's like my Red Bull."

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