Water – the taste test
Our experts tickle their taste buds with a variety of water
With water menus becoming increasingly elaborate, it can be hard to choose and work out which offers the best value. At the Michelin-starred Roussillon restaurant, in London, “perhaps one in 100 diners” asks for tap water, says chef/sommelier Roberto della Pietra. They choose between four bottled waters, three sparkling and one still.
“Sparkling is more popular,” says Roberto. “Most customers ask for Badoit or San Pellegrino.”
Are they making the right choice? He and I conducted a blind taste test on bottles, including Voss, which is available in bars, restaurants and hotels for £4.50 to £6; Finé, a “natural artesian water” available for £6 in the exclusive Daylesford Organic shop in Pimlico; and, of course, a humble glass of tap water.
Giles “Quite fizzy, with relatively coarse bubbles -something that would count against it if it were champagne – and a marked, though not unpleasant minerality.”
Roberto “Mineral taste with medium to high bubbles.”
We both suspected that this glass of water was Perrier, but we agreed it was better 20 minutes after it had been poured.
Giles “Very refreshing, with a slight hint of saltiness and a clean finish. Also displays a chalky mineral element, but the overall effect is neutral.”
Roberto “Still with a soft minerality, a dry finish and almost no aftertaste… it might be the tap water.”
Giles “Little visible spritz, but a soft cushion of bubbles hits the palate, a little like champagne. Quite pronounced mineral trace elements give it additional texture.”
Roberto “Low to medium bubbles with a soft finish.”
This glass achieved the second highest score from both tasters.
Giles “A steady stream of tiny bubbles, similar to that of fine champagne. In the mouth, more obviously fizzy, but not aggressively so.”
Roberto “A slightly bitter sensation on the finish.”
Giles “Neutral with little evidence of minerality, and refreshingly clean – but surely not the tap water.”
Roberto “I preferred this to the sparkling. Very pleasant, with a hint of minerality and an almost sweet finish.”
Giles “Initially it seem quite neutral, but a salty edge emerges which coats the mouth.”
Roberto “This leaves a dry finish, which spoils the overall effect.”
Giles “Perfectly acceptable, but lacking much discernible taste at all. Neutral – it could be the tap water.”
Roberto “Still and also with a soft minerality, more mouth-watering on the finish.”
Giles “Small bubbles and a gentle fizziness. Big character, but still refreshing.”
Roberto “Medium strength bubbles, salty, giving a sensation of chalk.”
Top marks from both tasters. 9/10