Use the FineWaters Balance to establish a progression in multiplecourse meals and to match or contrast the water with the mouthfeelof the dish. One of the prime joys of matching water and food, and one of the true marks of water connoisseurship is changing waters for each course, developing a progression of waters to guide you through the meal. Drinking a different water for each course highlights their subtle differences, and the progression adds enormously to the dining experience. If your favorite restaurant does not offer more than one water, ask them to consider adding more options.

 

MATCHING WITH MOUTHFEEL

For a five-course dinner, a good water progression might looklike this:

  • Hors d'oeuvre: Bold or Classic. This is much like having a taste of champagne - it draws attention and is bubbly and loud.
  • Salad: Effervescent. A nice contrast with the previous water but not entirely without bubbles.
  • First course (light seafood, for example): Still. You will notice the absence of bubbles and focus on the water.
  • Second course (poultry, for example): Effervescent or Light. Reintroduce some mouthfeel and match the water with the texture of the course.
  • Main course (red meat, for example): Light or Classic. Match it with the texture of the course.
  • Dessert: Still or Effervescent.

Try these simple examples to elevate drinking water to an experience. To go further, consider the principles of complement and contrast. Sometimes contrasting the texture of the food allows for enhanced pleasures. Raw oysters come to mind: These would go perfectly well with a Still water but might be more enjoyable with a Light sparkling water, which would provide additional sensation in the mouth. The same rule applies to fusion sushi or sashimi dishes, especially when they have some spiciness.

A spicy tuna tartar is another good example of a food that asks for a contrasting Light to Classic water. Other foods that do well with contrasting waters are hot and spicy foods, desserts, sweets, and cheeses. Many dishes can benefit from a water contrast - I encourage you to experiment and find new sensations.

 

MATCHING WITH MINERAL CONTENT

The amount of total dissolved solids is, after mouthfeel, the second most important factor in pairing water with food. The TDS in water ranges from the absolute 0 of distilled water (such as Le Bleu) to a whopping 13,298 mg/l for Donat Mg, a curative from Slovenia that is a meal in itself. The borders of TDS categories are fluid, and sometimes the actual mineral composition of the waters plays a significant role in the group designation. Keep that in mind when using the following taste guidelines to pair water with food:

MINERALITY

TDS

CHARECTERISTIC

Super Low

0-50 mg/l

Very light and neutral taste

Low

50-250 mg/l

Clean, soft, and neutral taste

Medium

250-800 mg/l

Classic mineral water taste

High

800-1,500 mg/l

More substance

Very High

>1,500 mg/l

Substantial feel, very distinct
character and taste

 

MATCHING WITH pH FACTOR

Most of the food we eat is acidic, ranging from a pH of 2.4 for cranberry sauce to 7.2 for spinach, shrimp, and certain cheeses. Use the taste of the water as influenced by pH factor (sour, sweet, or bitter) to complement or contrast with the taste of the dish. The pH level is only a minor component in pairing water with food, though, and it should not be overemphasized water pairing is not a pH numbers game. I love Perrier (pH 5.46) with crisp fried oysters (pH 5.7) and Borsec (pH 6.45) with cheese (pH 7.5).

 

INTANGIBLES

Beyond the pure flavor considerations, you should also take intangible qualities like presentation and a water's story into account when choosing your bottled water. The bottle plays an important role in the overall perception of the water. Since water has no notable visible characteristics of its own, the bottle has a remarkable impact on perceived value. Matching the presentation to the venue or event may have no influence on the actual taste (as any blind water tasting will tell you), but doing so can significantly enhance the experience, or be detrimental to it.

Plastic or glass; minimalist or traditional design; attention grabbing or discreet; blue or transparent bottlers offer many presentation options. Wine bottle design, on the other hand, is fairly uniform, most wineries focus all their attention on the label. With water we are lucky: Both the label and the bottle can express terroir.

Every good sommelier tells you a little story about the wine he or she is pouring you. Does it make the wine taste better? No. Does it make the wine feel more special and unique? Absolutely! The same is true for water: Sharing the story of the water its source and origin, vintage, and the location and circumstances of its bottling can contribute significantly to the overall experience.

  • In The News
  • History of Bottled Water
Over the past two decades, bottled water has become the fastest-growing drinks market in the world. The global market was valued at $157bn in 2013 and is expected to reach $280bn by 2020.
Water is turning into wine. The same culture that surrounds the production and consumption of wine is emerging around water. Water competitions akin to wine competitions are now held.
NY Times Science
Earth is old. The sun is old. But do you know what may be even older than both? Water.
Salt Science
Washington Post declares that unknown to many shoppers urged to buy foods that are “low sodium” and “low salt,” this longstanding warning has come under assault by scientists who say that typical American salt consumption is without risk.

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History Bottled Water
Ours is the blue planet, and the hallmark of life on Earth is water. But where did this colorless, odorless liquid first come from? Recent discoveries in astrophysics suggest that water is not native to Earth.
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History Bottled Water
This website appeared first in 2004 and the concept of considering water at the same level as wine and food as a natural product was still new and foreign to many.