Meet India's first certified water sommelier; he shares his tips on food and water pairings
For most of us water is a liquid that’s colourless, odourless and tasteless. It’s most important purpose is to quench thirst. But for Ganesh Iyer, it isn’t as simple. India’s first certified water sommelier from Doemens Academy, Graefelfing, Germany, Ganesh who is also the director of operations at Veen, a natural mineral water brand from Finland, talks about how he is able to detect, recognise and differentiate between types of water.
He says, “Water is differentiated on the basis of hardness, virginality (indication of how protected the water is), its age, terroir (the region from where it is bottled) , TDS (totally dissolved solids) and pH level.” When asked how he can tell the difference, he says, “I look at the appearance, smell, the mouthfeel and the after-taste.”
In India, water is broadly divided into natural mineral water, packaged drinking water and tap water. While packaged drinking water is what is sold at most restaurants and retail outlets, natural mineral water is still a rare commodity, with very few brands, like Veen, Perrier and Evian, selling it. “Water in plastic bottles changes character because the plastic interacts with the humidity in the air. Ideally, it’s always better to store water that you drink either in a steel bottle or a BPA-free plastic bottle. At home, it’s best to drink boiled water even if it is from the purifier,” he explains.
For food pairings, Ganesh says, the carbonation of water has an impact on food. “For barbecued meat and food that’s high on spice, like chicken tikka, moderately carbonated water is ideal. It doesn’t overpower the palate and blends well with the spicy notes. But seafood or sushi should be paired with sparkling water that’s low on carbonation. If the carbonation is high, the water is overpowering and destroys the subtle flavours and taste of the food.”
For Indian food, Ganesh says, water with good amount of TDS (minerals) is best. “The flavours blend seamlessly,” he explains, adding, “While eating out, if possible, always stick to water that’s stored in glass bottles. It comes intact with all the minerals and flavours,” he concludes.
The liquid trail: Here's a look at natural mineral water brands and their sources
Veen is sourced from the Khana Bharti River located at the lower foothills of the Himalayas.
Perrier Sparkling Water is from Vergèze in France.
Voss’s water comes from Iveland, which is located on the southern tip of Norway.
Évian gets its water from Évian-les-Bains in south-eastern France.
Himalayan Natural Mineral Water is from the Shivalik Range in the Himalayas.