The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2014

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august 2014  /  the tasting panel  /  83 to the group, Riese was ready to implement his successful European water program in Southern California. But he hadn't counted on the pushback he received: "In Germany, people were like, 'Oh cool, a water menu… awesome.' In California, people thought it was a joke, a PR stunt," he remarked lightheartedly. Europeans, particularly Germans, love mineral water—each citizen consumes approximately 138 liters of mineral water a year, with over 500 varieties available nationwide. Mineral water is very different from purified water, which the big corporations sell to America as the preferred option. Riese explains, "Mineral Water has TDS (total dis- solved solids) such as magnesium, calcium, potassium and sodium— life-restoring nutrients that give the water a distinctive taste. Purified water comes from municipal water sources like tap water and loses those vital nutrients in processing and becomes just…water." To illustrate his point, Riese gleefully prepared his signature water tasting for Ray's: VOSS (40 TDS), the Norwegian cylindrical icon from Neil Kraft, former chief designer for Calvin Klein. ISKILDE (426 TDS), a Danish, oxygen-rich spring that is bottled flat, yet curiously effervescent. VICHY CATALAN (3052 TDS), a Spanish hot spring water long sought for its restorative health benefits. "Water is terroir-driven, very much like wine," Riese explains while pouring. "It begins as rain water, and as it seeps through the earth, it collects unique mineral structure you can taste. An artesian spring occurs when the pressure of the water becomes strong enough to rise to the surface, ready to be drunk." Tasting the waters side by side, Riese's water science emerges: Initially, Voss tastes like clean water—however, after tasting the sodium-laden Vichy, the Voss seems thin and almost metallic. Conversely, the Iskilde has such high oxygen levels that it clouds when shaken and exhibits earth and mushroom notes, pairing beautifully with the homemade agnolotti del plin. Afterwards, Riese reveals his proprietary Beverly Hills 9OH2O water, recently crowned "The World's Best Water" and the first sommelier-crafted water in the world. Inspired by premium wines and spirits, Riese bottles pristine Northern California mountain spring water and adds a propriety recipe of minerals to achieve a perfectly crisp taste. "The different minerals express different 'colors' of taste, and I want to create fireworks!" Riese expresses with a smile. Boasting four times the electrolytes of SmartWater, 9OH2O also naturally "decants" flavors in your mouth and enhances, rather than clears, delicate flavors from food and wine. After all this, Riese believes premium mineral water consumption is primed for success. His water program sales are up 498 percent YOY, with a nearly even distribution amongst all 21 brands, despite carrying big names such as Evian and Perrier. He openly welcomes restaurants, bars and spas with their questions about curating their own unique water program and how to enhance an experience that many take for granted. VOSS (Norway): light and airy, a touch sweet. Metallic notes emerge when tasted after a higher TDS water. ISKILDE (Denmark): a small pop from opening the bottle, due to high oxygen count. Clouds when shaken. Earthy, mushroom notes, with a hint of fig. VICHY CATALAN (Spain): emerges from a hot spring (140°F). Heavy mineral count, loaded with sodium, almost like sea water. Medium bubbles, bitter chocolate on the finish. Martin calls it "a great hangover water" with all the minerals for restoration. BADOIT (France): Loire Valley origins, rising through granite. High mineral content with tiny bubbles gives an elegant experience. Hint of salt, but a smoothness from the bubbles. TASTING NOTES FOR WATERS: Wood-grilled swordfish with artichokes and Taggiasche olives opens up with the crisp bubbles of France's Badoit. Ray's grilled prawns with spicy haricot vert pairs beautifully with Beverly Hills 9OH2O. Martin Riese is careful not to spill a drop of his proprietary mineral water, Beverly Hills 9OH2O.

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