According to a new piece in the The Los Angeles Times, sommeliers who create specially curated, super expensive water menus are becoming more and more common at high-end restaurants. Water sommelier Martin Riese explains why:
“When you have good food, good wine and good spirits, you don’t want to contaminate that with [sic] water … All waters have unique tastes, and a lot of Americans think water is just water, but I completely don’t believe in that.Water has so many interesting nuances.”
I’ve been saying this since I was eight and my father would roll his eyes and tell me that I was a “snob.” I am not a snob; Arizona’s tap water (where I grew up) smelled and tasted like chlorine and made me feel sick. Apparently, I was born with a highly sensitive palate that could detect the thickness, minerality, sweetness and bitterness of various water varietals.
For instance, I find Evian to be thin and mineral-y, while SmartWater is thick with sweet notes. Although I didn’t attend the week-long water sommelier certification course at Doemen’s in Germany like Riese did, I believe I’ve earned the right to call myself a water sommelier. After a lifetime of aquaholism, sipping water around the world — from tap, to filtered, to bottled — in various situations (hungover, after a workout, at a fancy dinner), I’d like nothing more than to share the vast water knowledge I’ve accrued FOR FREE! You don’t even have to tip me. First piece of advice: never pay $20 for a bottle of water because that’s just dumb. Below, my suggested water pairings for everyday situations:
Situation #1: You’ve just finished hot yoga class and your vagina sweat is showing through your Lululemon pants.
Suggested Water Pairing: Ice cold Glaceau SmartWater with a ZICO Coconut Water chaser (natural flavor). You want to get electrolytes in your body ASAP to counteract that sweat. SmartWater is thick and hydrating and coconut water is sweet, soothing and chock-full of potassium.
Situation #2: You’re driving in your car, stuck in traffic and you’re dying of thirst. But all you have are the half-empty bottles that have been rolling around in the passenger’s seat for a week.
Suggested Water Pairing: Aquafina is the only brand to drink after being in your car for days on end. Why? The thick bottle ensures that the water holds up (as well as could be expected) in both hot and cold temperatures. It won’t taste amazing, but it will do the trick until you can get your mouth on a fresher bottle.
Situation #3: You’re hungover as hell and your mouth feels like it’s filled with a wine-flavored wad of sand.
Suggested Water Pairing: Stumble into your kitchen for a tall glass (or five) from your Brita pitcher. When you just want to get that water down the gullet and taste is of no concern to you, Brita is more than acceptable. If your state has particularly good tap water (or you’re not able to stay upright for long periods of time) you can consider drinking from the faucet. But as a self-proclaimed water sommelier, I do not endorse tap water because no matter how good it is, it always has an aftertaste. I skip the tap unless I’m totally desperately dehydrated or I’m a guest at someone’s house and they serve it to me. In that case, I take a sip or two to be polite and try not to twist my face.
Situation #4: You’re out to dinner on a budget and the waiter offers you bottled or tap.
Suggested Water Pairing: Always order the tap because restaurants mark up their bottled water prices like whoa. Then sneak a small bottle of Fiji in your purse — it will fit easily with its nice, square shape and it pairs well with most food flavors.
Situation #5: You’re being taken out to dinner by someone who has a lot of disposable income and the waiter asks if you would prefer bottled or tap.
Suggested Water Pairing: Spring for the VOSS — either sparkling or still. I personally only drink still because carbonation makes me burp a lot, but if you can handle sparkling water, this artisan water from Norway won’t disappoint. Added bonus: you can keep the glass bottle to refill with your sad, Brita water at home.
Situation #6: You’re at an airport, traveling through the middle or southern part of the country and you don’t recognize any of your regular brands.