A Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Most Distinctive Bottled Waters
By Michael Mascha
4-7/8 x 8-1/2 in; 192 pp;
The book will be available in October 2006.
Click here to buy an autographed copy of the book.
Water is indeed everywhere—especially bottled water. High-end restaurants now have water lists in addition to wine lists, water bars are opening up around the globe, and gourmet markets are selling dozens of different varieties of domestic and imported bottled waters. Consumers are beginning to recognize that bottled water, like wine, has a unique identity that is defined by its origin.
Fine Waters introduces readers to the epicurean delights of water, sharing the ins and outs of the characteristics that provide various waters with their unique flavors, as well as recommended food pairings, stemware suggestions, and optimum serving temperatures for enjoying both still and sparkling waters. The book also provides tasting notes for more than 100 of the world's best bottled waters. Produced in full color, with photographs throughout, Fine Waters is the first guide to this up-and-coming food trend.
Dr. Michael Mascha is a food anthropologist, culinary expert, and proprietor of finewaters.com.
Q&A with MICHAEL MASCHA, author of FINE WATERS:
Q: Your new book, Fine Waters: A Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Most Distinctive Bottled Waters, argues for a new appreciation of the epicurean pleasures of bottled water. Is water the new wine?
A: My book turns water into wine.
Q: Is there an easy way to tell by the label what is natural bottled water and what is bottled municipal tap water?
A: When it says Aquafina or Dasani on the label, you can be sure it's municipal water.
Q: Many of the waters profiled in Fine Waters have fascinating histories, some going back hundreds of years. Is it true that Hannibal drank Perrier and Leonardo Da Vinci sipped San Pellegrino?
A: Associating products with celebrities is not something Hollywood invented; it's actually a very old marketing technique. Springs are local and if you lived in the general area chances are you drank the water-even if you were Hannibal or Leonardo
Q: Do you have a personal favorite among of all the waters featured in the book?
A: I love all my children.
Q: Your book says that mouthfeel is the most important characteristic to consider when tasting water. Please explain.
A: We are trained to focus on taste and smell, but mouthfeel is also a very important component of flavor. Mouthfeel describes
the way food feels in the mouth (chewy, sticky, crunchy, etc).
Q: How would one go about finding some of the more obscure bottled waters profiled in your book? Are they available on the Web?
A: Unfortunately water is very heavy compared to its value so shipping is very expensive, but there are some Wed sites that sell
water online such as www.aquamaestro.com and www.aquabar.com.
Q: Let's say you are the water sommelier for a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner. What fine waters would be served?
A: Waters with a Fine Waters Balance designation of Classic or Bold are perfect at the beginning of a meal preferably with crispy appetizers, nuts, or chips. It provides a champagne feeling, especially if enjoyed in a proper champagne glass. A perfect cocktail would be a mixed drink with elderberry flower syrup and Classic or Bold water with a low mineral content
In order to match the mouthfeel of the turkey and the side dishes a Light or Effervescent sparkling water is perfect. Many people who claim they don't like sparkling water (“too many bubbles”) love this designations. Due to the robust nature of the flavors, medium to high TDS waters are appropriate as they show more structure.
Effervescent waters are an epicurean surprise to many. These sophisticated waters straddle the delightful line between Still and Light sparkling waters. Almost flat but a hint of mouthfeel is a sensation that is new to many who have not experienced it and a perfect match for a pumpkin pie with whipped cream as the super small bubble provide some contrasting mouthfeel to the classic Thanksgiving dessert. If you prefer Still waters, why not surprise your guests with bottled rain water from Oregon or Tasmania .
Q: Is there such a thing as vintage bottled water?
A: Bottled water has an indefinite shelf life if bottled in an industrial environment. Unlike some wine, water does not improve with age.
Q: There are color photographs of all the bottled waters profiled in Fine Waters. Are there any new trends in bottled water design?
A: Water is transparent, so the bottle becomes the most important part of the brand. Good bottles express terroir, meaning they reflect their origin. Take Antipodes, for example: The bottle is a modern interpretation of the historic beer and sherry bottles of New Zealand. And if you look at Bling H2O you know it can only be from LA or Miami, not Cleveland.
Q: Any thoughts on why Italy is the world's epicenter for water connoisseurship?
A: At classical Rome's peak, 11 aqueducts carried water into the city. The waters from the aqueducts were rated, and the water from the Acqua Marcia aqueduct was considered the finest. Fast forward to today, and Italy has about 600 brands of bottled water and the highest per capita consumption in the world. Italian people still care deeply about their water (and food).