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The Real Difference Between Bottled Waters, According To A Water Sommelier

For most of us, water is just water. It’s a tasteless, odorless liquid that we drink when we’re thirsty. But the truth is, that assumption is quite the opposite of reality.

There’s much more than meets the eye when it comes to water. In a sense, drinking water can be treated like wine, meaning the place of origin, distillation process and even age of the water has a profound impact on the water’s taste, smell and character.

Considering the vast number of options when it comes to purchasing water, it’s almost impossible to differentiate one bottled water from another — without looking at the price tag.

So, in order to educate ourselves about the complexities of bottled drinking water, we sought the help of Martin Riese – America’s only water sommelier – to help break down what makes one brand of drinking water more superior than another.

While simply drinking water may seem like an effortless activity, Riese explained that human body is wired to absorb the natural minerals and nutrients present. Just as we eat food for nutrition, it’s important to understand that water contains the same essential elements that tremendously benefit our bodies.

For Riese, spring water is the primary choice for drinking and encourages consumers to become familiar with the TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) factor. The TDS rating is an indicator of the strength of water’s mineral content, taste and texture. 

FIJI Natural Artesian Water, for example, has a TDS of 222, which yields a very smooth, yet velvety texture with a hint of taste.

While every individual’s preferences will be different when it comes to water, Riese suggested tasting a wide spectrum of waters with varying TDS levels, in order to accommodate to your palate.

“Water is the most important beverage in our lives, and without water we wouldn’t be on this planet,” Reise said.

With that, let’s ensure we take time to honor water, for the beautiful and nourishment it provides.   

Photos by Peter Pham

Created in partnership with FIJI Natural Artesian Water    


This Miracle Machine Promises to Turn Water into Wine


You can probably thank the failed economy and the growing sentiment that wine-tasting is complete and utter bullshit for this one. Proving that the world is ready to move into the next stage of home-brewing, someone actually invented a machine that makes wine out of water.

It’s called The Miracle Machine (of course) and it’s basically a Sodastream for wine.  Like its under-21 counterpart, the Miracle Machine uses water, yeast, grape concentrate, and finishing powder packets to create decent DIY-quality vino, virtually out of thin air. Just connect the machine to its corresponding iOS or Android app, input all the ingredients, and, in true miracle fashion, wait three days for your wine to rise triumphantly from the ashes of discarded flavor packets and tap water.

There are currently six wine types programmed into the Miracle Machine App: Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Chardonnay, Oregon Pinot Noir, a Tuscan blend, Sonoma Sauvignon Blanc, and a red and white (blend?) from Burgundy. Each type is expected to keep for up to one to two weeks and taste completely pre-aged and ready-to-drink.

Catch The Miracle Machine on its soon-to-launch Kickstarter page or watch the promotional video here.


A Legit Sommelier Rates All the Trader Joe’s Two Buck Chucks. Awesome Happens


Read the original article from Thrillist here.

Whether you were throwing a dinner for people you felt compelled to not impress, or just hate paying $2.01 and up for literally anything, at some point you’ve likely been in a position to load up a shopping cart with a crapload of Two-Buck Chuck, pray nobody from church sees you, and party down.

Here’s the thing, though: some of it’s actually pretty damn good, and could easily be sold as Nine-to-Eleven-Buck Chuck without anyone being the wiser.

So we brought in two devoted tasters to blindly drink eight different types of Charles Shaw Blend, hit us with detailed notes, and determine 1) which bottles are totally palatable and even enjoyable, and 2) which should be avoided as if they were made by Chuck Woolery, who, it turns out, makes terrible wine.



Taster No. 1: Our resident sommelier for the evening, Sam Lipp is the current general manager of NYC’s Union Square Cafe, and the former bar manager of three-Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park, which might not sell a single glass of wine that costs less than what these eight bottles do together.



Taster No. 2: Girlfriend, who previously displayed her capacity for providing next-level tasting notes when I made her and my sister drink 21 extremely strong beers on a brewery crawl. She got confused as to which was wine for a second here.

We had each of them give their impressions of each wine’s appearance, smell, and obviously taste, provide a 1-to-10 overall rating (of general drinkability — nothing’s being compared to a Lafite Rothschild here) and then try to blindly guess each varietal.

Let’s get down to it.




Sommelier: “It’s very pale, going on green color. I get lavender. Like, soapy lavender. It reminds me of my dad’s bathtub [EDITOR’S NOTE: Weird]. This is pretty damn palatable. There’s acid, there’s fruit, and there some semblance of a body to it. There’s certainly an element of fake oak, in the best possible way. It’s as if somebody took a whole bunch of the wood chips from when playgrounds were badass.”
Score: “8.”
What is it?: “Chardonnay.”

Girlfriend: “I know exactly what this smells like. A hippie. Not the kind of hippie that camps out at Phish concerts, the kind who gets acupuncture and wears crystals. Not the patchouli thing. It just smells like nature, I guess. This is the Jessica Simpson of wines. A little trashy, but you wanna like it.”
Score: “This is a 7 for me.”
What is it?: “Yep, Chardonnay.”




Sommelier: “It smells like alcohol and paint thinner, which to me smells like alcohol. This could basically be the sweetest red wine I’ve ever seen passed off as a table wine. If you left it in a glass overnight it would have sugar crystals in it. If you poured me this wine at the end of a three hour dinner, I’d swear this was totally appropriate.”
Score: “7.”
What is it?: “This is either the Shiraz, or the Cabernet. Or the Merlot. This is the… Shiraz. No. Wait. It’s the Cabernet.”

Girlfriend: “Can you get high from sniffing too much wine? Just wondering. This tastes like a beet.”
Sommelier: “What kind of beet? Red? Chioggia? Some other beet?”
Girlfriend: “I thought I was just doing well saying beet. Also brie cheese. This makes me want to eat brie cheese. This one’s good! This is good wine.”
Score: “7.5.”
What is it?: “Shiraz. Also, I’m 100… no, not 100… 76 percent convinced that Trader Joe makes all his wine from Robitussin. I’m robo-tripping.”




Sommelier: “This thing smells like a pie. It’s the strawberry patch that nature forgot about, then rained and hailed on. Pure liquefied, alcoholic Jolly Rancher. I’m sorry I can’t give you more on that. Yet — and this is serious — there’s a useful quality to this wine. I would use this in college punches, as a sweetening product, when I didn’t need more alcohol.”
Score: “A very soft 1.”
What is it?: “No wine has ever been more obviously White Zinfandel.”

Girlfriend: “It’s like vinegar. This is 100% Easter egg dye. It smells like Easter egg dye, it’s probably going to taste like Easter egg dye. Or maybe a scratch-and-sniff sticker. I don’t want anything to do with this wine. I want out.”
Score: “I don’t even know that I can give it a 1.”
What is it?: “Oh, it’s White Zinfandel, 100%.”




Sommelier: “This one has just a little more intensity to the color for me. When I smell it I also start to introduce the idea of ground black pepper. When you smell it, you should think about it like nestling your nose in a furry chinchilla. Oh my god, maybe we are high from sniffing it. If I hadn’t seen the labels of all eight beforehand, I’d take this for a cheap impersonation of a Loire Cabernet Franc.”
Score: “I’m going with a 7.”
What is it?: “I’m gonna say Merlot.”

Girlfriend: “Oh, I was thinking like a roasted red pepper. Anndd… hmmm, I had it but I lost it… oh, chocolate covered-cherries! What are those things called? Cherry cordials. It does that thing where your mouth goes dry when you’re done swallowing. It kinda shocks you, then it goes soft, then your mouth goes dry. This is really not bad!”
Score: “I’ll give it a 9.”
What is it?: “I think it’s the Cab.”




Sommelier: “It’s a bright, fresh, lively nose, sort of citrus dominated, grapefruit, lemon, lime. Hmmm… now all of that potential in the nose has pooped out in the palate. It sort of feels flabby. But overall it’s really not that bad at all.”
Score: “6.”
What is it?: “Gotta be the Sauvignon Blanc.”

Girlfriend: “It smells like a sausage casing and tastes like a knock-off peach Hi-Chew. It tastes a little peachy, right?”
Score: “6.”
What is it?: “Sauvignon Blanc, sure.”




Sommelier: “It smells like weed! Dammit, I think he poured us the Sauv Blanc now to show us how wrong we were. [EDITOR’S NOTE: I sure did.] Let’s get past the cannabis overtures. This wine tastes of every wine. It has zero defining varietal characteristics. This one is terrible — it’s approximately half a step from Mad Dog.”
Score: “2.”
What is it?: “Pinot Grigio.”

Girlfriend: “Generally speaking, wine isn’t supposed to smell like skunks. Also it’s hard to sniff and keep your mouth open at the same time. It smells like grapes, for sure. And Laffy Taffy, the green one. And I was gonna say bananas, but you can’t squish bananas into a drink. We’re really selling this one. I can’t drink any more of this.”
Score: “3.”
What is it?: “Wine product, like the stuff you can get in a deli.”




Sommelier: “All the reds look absolutely the same to me. This is going to be easy on your stomach. It has no distinguishing characteristic as wine whatsoever. It just smells like grape. The problem with this wine is it just tastes like candy, the sugar is off the charts.”
Score: “I’m gonna give this one a 3.”
What is it?: “I really hope this is not the Syrah. Let’s say Pinot Noir. Wait, it’s not the Pinot, but I’ve now bamboozled myself.”

Girlfriend: “This just smells like wine, you’re right. I was gonna say this one tastes like perfume, but no, it’s body spray. Like from Bath & Body Works. And don’t get me wrong, I use it and love it, I just don’t want to drink it.”
Score: “I’ll give it a 3 also.”
What is it?: “This is the Nouveau. 100%. Even though I don’t really know what that means. But that’s what I think it is.”




Sommelier: “I think if we poured you a glass of really good wine after this, I think you’d say you love this one. Mine looks nice. I think that this has an inherent strawberry characteristic. Maybe even other berries, like raspberry jam, or plum Smuckers. It’s light bodied, just kinda quaffable. It’s got this real light rancidity under the freshness. I’m light, I’m fresh, I will tear you up in the morning. But the second sip is better than the first!”
Score: “7.”
What is it?: “I’m calling this that Nouveau wine. It could be Pinot Noir too.”

Girlfriend: “It’s a little magenta-y. That could be the Christmas tree lights though. This is the closest to what I think wine should smell like. I can tell you right now this is the best wine I’ve had. Also it smells like Country Crock margarine.”
Score: “8.5.”
What is it?: “I’ll go with Pinot Noir. It really just tastes so margarine-y. But that’s not bad for some reason. I really like it.”




Sommelier: 4/8
Girlfriend: 3/8


Merlot: 8
Chardonnay: 7.5
Shiraz: 7.75
Cabernet Sauvignon: 7.25
Pinot Grigio: 6
Nouveau: 3
Sauvignon Blanc: 2.5
White Zinfandel: Technically 1, but not really even.



Also we got pizza.


Ben Robinson is Thrillist’s editorial director, and is eagerly expecting a Fudgie The Whale cake on his birthday, and also just general other days. Follow him@BenjoRobinson.


Unique Wine Labeling Uses Color Swatches to Break Down Flavor


Taking a modern approach to wine labeling, Uproot has created a first-of-its-kind color bar. The unique labeling serves as a visual representation of the wine’s tasting notes, offering a guide to the flavors and aromas found in the bottle. Together, these color bars make up what the company calls a “Flavor Palette” that is unique to each variety of wine. While the label changes according to the wine’s flavor profile, the design will retain the brand-specific color bars and overall aesthetic.

The idea here is recognition and transparency. From sommeliers to people just looking for an easy way to decipher wine lingo, this type of infographic strategy provides you with all the basics.

We’ve got to hand it to them — you would definitely know an Uproot wine bottle when you see one, thanks to this clever marketing scheme. However, while this is certainly “innovative” marketing, it’s unclear whether the company is selling wine with diverse flavors, or a home decorating service with a bounty of wallpaper color swatches.

Uproot Wines, $34-$44 @DrinkUproot


Would You Try Coffee + Food Pairings?


Can you imagine how much more agonizing a trip to Starbucks would be if your barista started judging you on what pastry you got with your pumpkin spice latte? “Ooh, the chocolate croissant, are you sure? Because the bitterness of the cocoa will totally battle with the sweetness of the cinnamon. Better just go with a bagel. Plus it’s vegan (I think). Yeah, you’re welcome.”

Well, like it or not, coffee is the latest beverage to go the old sommelier route, as the Coffee Collective coffee company in Denmark is now offering food pairings to go along with each of its specific drinks.

The idea is to keep the foods as simple as possible – “nothing that has enough potency to take the focus away from the the [sic] cup,” says the Coffee Collective blog. So that means no avocado, no chili, no chocolate.


“Every dish consists of a couple of slices of sour doe [sic] bread and some butter served with different jams and purées consisting of a single ingredient pressure cooked with just a little bit of sugar, to preserve it, and maybe a small squeeze of lemon,” the coffee pairings post reads, “This is topped with some kind of ingredient, could be a type of nut, to give it some texture and flavour balance. Other sides could be different cured meats or cheese all depending on which coffee we want pair it with.”

Personally, I’d love to know what I can eat with coffee that A) will help leave my mouth feeling less grimy and B) make my head hurt less. Where’s my Starbucks Martin Riese?

H/T + PicThx Design Taxi


Some Syrah with Your Bacon? The World’s Most Practical Wine Pairing Chart EVER


It’s happened to all of us before: You’ve got a nice meal planned, but you have no idea what wine would be best. Yeah, white wine goes with fish and a red wine goes with steak, but what about something like . . . smoked bacon? Roasted broccoli? Couscous? If you don’t just happen to have a neighbor who conveniently happens to be a wine sommelier, this wine-pairing chart might just be the next best thing.

Thanks to the awesome fine-diners at Wine Folly, this helpful chart will help to break down the tricky process — all you need to know is what food category your main course falls under. Is it fish? A rich fish, like lobster or grab? Is it vegetables? Are they roasted?

Or, conversely, maybe you have a nice bottle of Chardonnay that you don’t know what to do with. This chart will let you know that a brie is just fine, but a harder cheese won’t be all that pleasing with that particular glass of wine.

Added bonus? We’re pretty sure the stylish design of this easy go-to reference chart would look great hanging in our kitchen or living room. Check out the original visual here.

H/T Gizmodo