Sparkling waters, also known as mineral waters, can add an interesting texture and dimension to cocktails. They also play a very useful role when evaluating spirits or wines, and can also play an important role at the dinner table.
Many countries offer sparkling waters which are captured and bottled at the source. Perrier from France and San Pellegrino from Italy are two of the most venerable sparkling water brands, and both command intense consumer loyalty. Other lesser-known brands exist and have their advocates, but in the world of sparkling waters, Perrier and San Pellegrino reign supreme.
In cocktails, the substitution of a sparkling water like Perrier for common club soda will result in a cleaner, more refreshing cocktail. Club soda contains bicarbonate of soda, and also has carbon dioxide injected into the product, which produces large, rough bubbles and a flat taste.
A sparkling water like Perrier or Pellegrino, however, contains close to an estimated 50 million small bubbles, which fizz and sparkle on the palate. Additionally, the dissolved minerals add an additional flavor dimension to cocktails. For the purposes of experimentation, try making a Tom Collins cocktail both ways, one with club soda and the other with sparkling water. The difference becomes immediately apparent: Sparkling waters are an easy and cost-effective way to make your cocktails more luxurious.
During a wine or spirits tasting, sparkling waters are invaluable. By scrubbing the palate with their small, natural bubbles, the palate is refreshed and ready for perceiving new and different flavors. I always keep a glass of Perrier by my side when tasting wines and spirits, and you will find that most professional winemakers, sommeliers, journalists and the like use sparkling waters when they taste and evaluate wine or spirits.
At the dinner table, a bottle of sparkling water can help cleanse and refresh the palate between sips or wine and bites of food. Additionally, it can take strong tastes off of the palate quicker than anything else, leaving the palate ready for additional wine or food. Perhaps even more importantly, sparkling waters can match up with vinaigrette dressings, allowing for an easy match with a salad course. Diners gain two benefits: first, the palate can rest without having to withstand more alcohol; and second, the pairing with the salads is much better, resulting in a better overall meal.
For these reasons and more, sparkling waters deserve to be on your table at all times. Try incorporating a bottle of Perrier or Pellegrino or another brand into your daily routine and see if they don’t heighten and enhance your dining experiences.