Water and wine
Water and Wine
Maybe it will surprise some folks, but water matters when it comes to wine. This is going to seem a bit extreme, but just as food and wine can interact for good or ill, so can water.
Most bottled waters in the United States are little more than tap water that’s been filtered sufficiently to have its flavors and minerals removed, and most of us find that our local tap water is not only tasty enough, it is the greenest way to procure water. Bottled waters use far more energy in terms of the plastic container, label and cap, the trucking and shipping, and storage required. But some people like sparkling water, and that doesn’t flow out of the tap as easily. Also, some restaurants today offer many different kinds of bottled water, as bottled water has become commonplace.
So if you’re serving or drinking water and you’re serving or drinking wine alongside it, you might want to give a bit of thought to the way they interact. Most tap water is chlorinated, and chlorine can knock back the flavors in a glass of wine, muting some of the more delicate notes. Candidly, this characteristic is hardly noticeable to most people, but if a wine is light or delicate, that wine may seem less impressive alongside chlorinated water.
Sparkling water will make a sweet wine taste crisper and lighter. Bottled waters are also differentiated by the pH and by the amount of total dissolved solids (TDS). Waters with a low pH (like Perrier) are tart and bracing; the fact that Perrier is sparkling only adds to that bite. Tart waters make tart wines seem well-balanced and sweet wines seem sweeter.
Many European waters have high TDS (a salt and mineral taste). Some, like Vichy, are so intense that they will overwhelm most wines; some, like Voss or Fiji, are so low in TDS that they will seem very neutral. A salty water (like salty foods) will make a big wine taste smaller and milder. A low TDS water will make a powerful wine taste more powerful.
Maybe these issues seem like inside baseball, applicable to only a few true believers, but people will often say that a favorite wine isn’t as impressive on some particular evening. They’ll wonder why later. Maybe it was the bottle, maybe it was the company, or maybe it was the water.