Become a water connoisseur!
Does water really have a taste? What temperature should it be drunk at? Water expert Renaud Jeanne answers our questions and brings us everything you need to know about water tasting.
White wine, red, rosé – no two wines are the same, and the same goes for water. Water taste depends on its origin (mineral or spring) and it can very to a surprisingly high degree. Water expert Renaud Jeanne brings us the lowdown on the many different flavours of water.
Doctissimo: What's the difference between mineral water and spring water?
Renaud Jeanne: The difference between spring water and mineral water is simple: mineral water has a set mineral content that doesn't change: it has the same taste, flavour and benefits for the body. Mineral water has been sold in pharmacies for around 50 years for its health benefits. Spring water has a more variable content.
Doctissimo: How do you choose between all these different types of water in a supermarket?
Renaud Jeanne: The first thing to look out for as a consumer is the label. The content of mineral water is usually listed on the bottle. The dry residue reading will be indicated on the label. If it's lower than 150mg, the water is considered “neutral” for the body.
Doctissimo: If you prefer sparkling or salty water, you have to watch out for water with a high mineral content, as it isn’t suitable for drinking every day. What are the best tasting alternatives?
Renaud Jeanne: Water is actually defined by its lack of taste, and all the flavours you get are due to the mineral content. When different types of water have different flavours, it is actually the different mineral contents you are tasting. We know, for example, that calcium-rich water has a minimal flavour, sodium-rich water is iodised, magnesium-rich water has more of a kick to it, and so on.
Doctissimo: Apart from the fact that water can have a spicy kick to it, different kinds of water can also taste light or oily. Why is this?
Renaud Jeanne: If water has a more oily texture, this relates to how it feels in the mouth. Some waters are lighter and will evaporate quickly on your tongue, whereas other waters spread over the inner surfaces of your mouth and coat them. This is simply a question of texture. Water with an oilier texture tends to lubricate the sensors in your palette.
Doctissimo: Now we’ve got the basics, can you tell us a bit more about water tasting?
Renaud Jeanne: How do you taste water? Well, personally, like other water sommeliers, I tend to start off with the same technique used in wine tasting, with three key criteria: visual, scent and taste.
I believe in finding the right water to suit the wine you are drinking. The right water should not spoil the taste of your wine in any way, and should also go with your food. It's obvious that iodised water goes well with fish and seafood. Spicier waters tend to suit richer food, and more neutral types of water with a slightly acidic kick are often a good accompaniment for white wine, which will pick out the sharp taste in the water perfectly. Water with an oilier texture suits red wines best, mainly because this kind of water quenches your thirst most effectively and will also soften the taste of the tannins in the wine.
Doctissimo: Wine has to be served at exactly the right temperature. Is this also true for water?
Renaud Jeanne: Yes. When serving water, don’t chill it too much. The serving temperature is different for still and sparkling water. Still water should be served at around 14°C so you can really appreciate all its flavours without cooling your body temperature too much. Sparkling water should be served at around 10/12°C so the bubbles are preserved – just like champagne.
On a daily basis, make sure you choose water with a low mineral content by checking the dry residue reading on the label. If you have any particular health problems (high blood pressure, renal problems, constipation, etc.), seek advice from your doctor, who will know what kind of water is best suited to your needs.
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