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Water Tasting: What to Learn

water tasting
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When it comes to beverage tasting, most people instinctively think of wine tasting or, more rarely, beer tasting as well as spirits, right down to the figure of the oleologist, the taster of extra virgin olive oils.

For the past few years, however, we have been hearing more and more about water tasting and the professional figure in charge of it, the hydro sommelier.

Incidentally, it is also worth mentioning that there are actual water tasting championships in which mineral waters from all over the world face each other; it falls to the tasters to determine the winning water.

At a superficial analysis it might seem strange to think about the tasting of a beverage that is often described as odorless, tasteless and colorless; in reality this description refers to distilled water, a practically pure water from a chemical point of view, in which there is the almost total absence of impurities (mineral salts, dissolved gases, microorganisms, etc. ), but when we talk about mineral water intended for consumption then the issue changes because there can be marked differences between one product and another in terms of taste and more.

For example, according to the website dedicated to Smeraldina premium online water, a proper balance of sodium, chlorides, bicarbonates, calcium, magnesium, and potassium can make a water that is excellent in taste, refreshing, remineralizing, and suitable for people of all ages.
Since, therefore, there may be differences between one water and another, let’s learn more about water tasting and the figure of the hydro sommelier.

Water Tasting: How Does It Work?

water somalier
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It has already been mentioned that wine tasting and oil tasting are two well-known practices; water tasting is actually of more recent birth, but it is since the early 2000s that there has been a “Water Codex”, a book written by tasting experts that provides useful guidance on water for the restaurant industry by dissecting its various aspects, from how it should be served, to tasting and pairing it with other beverages served at the table, mainly with wine.

The Water Codex provides guidance on both the procedure to be followed and the tools that should be used so that the ideal conditions for tasting are created.

For example, as in the case of wine tasting, great importance is given to the tasting temperature, which is different depending on whether the water is natural or sparkling. In the former case, the ideal temperature ranges from 11 to 13 °C, while in the latter case it falls into a range of 8 to 10 °C.

As can easily be imagined, the water to be tasted should be contained in glass bottles; the choice of the latter material is explained by the fact that it is chemically inert, that is, it does not participate in chemical reactions when in contact with other substances, and this ensures that there is no alteration in the odor, taste and color of the drink.

Also important is the choice of glass, which should be crystal or sound glass, with a thin rim and without a stem.

Then as for the actual procedure, the steps of the water tasting process are as follows: pour, observe, smell, taste and rinse.

The water is presented in closed bottles; after opening, the water is poured into the glass, filling it up to about one-third, after which an initial tasting is made, which is used by the hydro sommelier to make a judgment on the freshness of the drink.

The water remaining in the glass is then removed and the glass is refilled; we are in the second stage of the process, which is the observation of the water under different angles to check for any visible impurities; in the case of sparkling water at this stage the effervescence of the liquid is also observed.

The third step is to analyze the smell of the water; for this purpose it is necessary to bring the glass close to nose level and take several inhalations at regular intervals.

The fourth step consists of tasting the drink; this is a process divided into several steps and which begins with a first sip; you leave some of the water in your mouth by distributing it inside so that you can assess its main characteristics: structure, flavor, degree of acidity, etc. The first sip will then be swallowed and a second, larger sip is taken to refine the analysis.

After this step, it is necessary to rinse your mouth with tap water, after which you can move on to tasting a different water.

Why Are the Various Catering Waters Different?

water glasses
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The various waters used for catering are different from each other, and the differences are determined by the characteristics of the territories from which they originate. Factors that influence the taste of a water include its degree of mineralization, its pH, the more or less pronounced presence of carbon dioxide, etc.

Speaking of pH, it should be remembered that it is that quantity used to express the degree of acidity or basicity of a liquid (the scale of values goes from 1 to 14); if the pH has a value less than 7 the liquid is acidic, a pH 7 indicates neutrality, while a higher value indicates basicity (or alkalinity).

A hydro sommelier, because of his or her experience and training, can identify rather easily whether a water is acidic or alkaline.

The factors that influence the taste of water determine its basic taste, which may tend toward salty, sweet, sour or bitter.

How Does One Become a Hydro Sommelier?

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What educational path should one follow to become an expert in water tasting or, in a single word, hydro sommelier?

Courses usually involve various levels of training and are divided into intensive modules lasting several days.

The topics discussed are numerous; for example, those explored at the beginning of the courses cover both general and specific subjects such as “Getting to know water,” “The classification of water,” “The dietary and health principles of mineral water,” “How to read mineral water labels,” etc.

As for the initial levels, usually certificates of participation are issued, while after passing the last level, a hydro sommelier diploma will be obtained.

Often with regard to the first level there are no particular tests to pass, while as the training progresses there may be specific tests such as those on olfactory perception and taste.

Finally, as far as the final level is concerned, there is usually an exam with multiple-choice questions, but of course the manner depends on the course organizer.