The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2010

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Page 110 of 116

IN THE dRINK affect their flavor. Silica gives a silky mouthfeel; potassium brings a sweeter profile. And there are undesirables; too much iron content and water tastes metallic, while hydrogen sulfate produces an odor similar to rotten eggs. Considering the nature of trace minerals at a given source, the idea of terroir is just as valid with water as with wine, maybe moreso. And yes, waters do taste very different from one another. Ultimately, the winners in the categories were as diverse as the sources themselves. Gold Medal Winners Best Sparkling Water: Dobra Voda, Macedonia – asser- tive carbonation with medium bubbles, light mouth feel Best Municipal Water: Hamilton, Ohio – slightly sweet, heavy mouthfeel Kikiri No Wakemae from Japan and Kunlun Mountain from China were surprise entries in this year’s competition. stunningly rich, pure taste. Waiwera’s current push into the U.S. signals an aggressive marketing campaign, specifically for on-premise accounts. From Italy, Suio Water travels through volcanic earth, and it’s believed the Emperor Nero drank from this source. Apart from straight waters, the market is also seeing growth of enhanced waters such as vitamin waters and brands with other flavor additives. Ayala’s Herbal Water infuses pure H2O with organic culinary herbs to produce light flavors including lemongrass mint vanilla and cinnamon orange peel—surprisingly flavorful but restrained waters with bright notes of each aromatic. The majority of bottled water comes from springs, wells, glaciers and rainwater—and even from 3,000 feet below the ocean’s surface. Chefs, master bakers and mixologists use bottled water in an attempt to create the best product they can. As the municipal water infrastructure in the U.S. suffers from dilapidated pipes and tainted taste, there is a strong demand for water in its purest state. Back at Berkeley Springs, the 110 / the tasting panel / april 2010 Saturday judging gets underway with 21 municipal waters, then nine purified waters, followed by 20 non-carbonated waters and 20 sparkling waters. As in wine and spirits competitions, points are awarded by appearance, odor, flavor, mouthfeel and aftertaste. Some 200 people gathered to watch the judg- ing, explore the exhibits and wait for the winners. Some linger for the food, but the majority anticipate the “water rush,” a public free-for-all with the hundreds of bottles of water that have been on display up for grabs. The success of the Berkley Springs competition is that it does not discrimi- nate between waters; natural waters get equal time with city water and car- bonated offerings. “Berkeley Springs has done more that anything else to make the public aware that water mat- ters,” says J. Scott Shipe, Government Affairs Chair for the American Water Works Association and a frequent judge at the competition. Tasting waters is not as simple as it might seem. Water should always be tasted at room temperature, since coldness can mask flaws. Additionally, trace minerals in waters will directly Best Purified Water: Kittiwake Pure Water, Manitoba, Canada – crystal clear, no odor, light, refreshing Best Bottled Water: Ecoviva, Michigan – clean, pure, no aftertaste, slightly silky Ecoviva, named best Bottled Water, uses biodegradable packaging.

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