PRESS RELEASE: Minerals & Terroir – How water can affect the taste of wine
Mineral water is a product with indisputable provenance, yet the relevance in a gastronomic setting, particularly in taste, is not understood. A sommelier, a wine buyer and a water specialist started tasting waters alongside white wines in September 2008, in order to see whether water could affect the taste of a wine. It has since been experienced that the range of effects that water can have on the palate is quite remarkable. Not only can the wrong water harm a given wine, but an appropriate choice of water can actually enhance the natural characteristics of a wine.
There is no credible fine dining establishment that doesn’t have a serious wine list with complementary spirits and cocktails – all appealing to their discerning clientele, whilst aiming for the holy grail of both specialisation and differentiation.
So why is it that in the light of recent criticisms aimed at the offering of bottled mineral water in restaurants, there has been no attempt to halt the loss of key revenues from this high-turnover product? It is quite ironic, given the encyclopaedic knowledge of how wine pairs with food, that it is the lack of knowledge that has proven to be the stumbling block.
There is simply no answer to the accusations that mineral water is no different to tap water. Lack of a unitary understanding from the mineral water industry prevents both the successful communication of an establishment’s water selection and subsequently, the offering of a mineral water appropriate for the cuisine – or dare it be said...the wine!
Minerals and Terroir is an ambitious project. It is so called as the aim is to see beyond the marketing of mineral waters and focus on the chemistry of the liquified minerals that form h2O and the individual characteristics of a wine that are borne of their terroir. We do this with taste in mind.
Over 50 white wines have been tasted, representing typical grape varieties on most sommeliers’ lists. These have been tasted alongside 11 still waters, including tap water and 10 sparkling waters. We plan to start the red wines soon.
A number of respected individuals have attended these tastings as guests, ensuring that Minerals & Terroir has not remained a ‘closed forum’ and that we take on board alternative observations. There is a unanimous surprise as to how much a water can actually affect a wine.
A detailed scoring system from 20 has been created, reflecting the variety of ways in which a water can affect the taste experience of a wine. The results turn ‘established’ knowledge on its head, with low mineral waters mostly harming wines and highly mineralised waters being most likely to enhance a wine or at least, allow it to express itself.
The findings mean that a restaurant can now offer an informed choice of water to their guests – and that vital attention to detail which will ensure that the selected wine isn’t adversely affected by any element of the meal. Finally, the on-trade can demonstrate value in the generous margins applied to bottled water.
The Minerals & Terroir team is:
Roberto della Pietra – Head Sommelier,
Nicolas Angelina – Wine Buyer, Noura restaurants,
Michael Tanousis – Managing Director, Aqua Amore – Mineral Water Specialists,