Water is important, it is essential for all forms of life to thrive and survive, yet water has never really interested us. We drink it daily, often without thought, mainly because our body inherently craves H2O, but never has anyone been truly excited by this beverage until now.
Meet German-born Martin Riese, who we got the pleasure of interviewing during a water tasting when he came into our Spoon offices. He is America’s first, and only, water sommelier. Sommelier? Yes, you heard us right. The word that is usually given to experts on wine has taken on a new meaning with Martin, who has considered himself an expert on water since the age of four, when he began to notice the variety of flavors in different tap waters from cities around Germany and Europe.
It wasn’t until years later, when a customer approached Martin at his restaurant, that he realized the importance of different waters. “He said, ‘You’re just offering one particular brand of water, and I don’t like this brand, do you have something else?’ and then I began thinking, ‘What if we had a variety of options for different waters?’” Which led Riese to offer the first water tasting menu in Berlin starting in 2005.
“Water’s not just water, let’s appreciate it for what it is — the most important beverage in our lives,” says Riese, who has since moved to the United States in passionate efforts to hydrate the American population. He was originally in the U.S. on a visa for “extraordinary talent,” and now he has gotten his green card and plans on remaining here for the time being.
Riese has certainly made a splash since his move to the states. Not only has he been featured on Good Morning America, but he has also made an appearance on Conan O’Brien‘s late-night talk show.
Perhaps most entertaining, however, is the viral video of Riese doing a water tasting with 2 Chainz and Diplo, in which they try a variety of waters including America’s most expensive water, 90H20, with a price point of around $100,000.
So, what is it that really distinguishes one brand of water from another? The answer is TDS, or total dissolved solids. The higher TDS of water means the more minerals and elements that are naturally occurring, leading to a more prevalent “taste”. Riese goes as far to argue that certain waters should be paired with specific meals or wines in order to further bring out the flavor.
We’re still not water connoisseurs quite yet, but now we’re going to think twice when we hit up the supermarket and browse the bottled water aisle.