LA restaurant Ray’s & Stark Bar has created a 25-page water menu consisting of 20 different kinds of bottled water ranging in price from $8 to $16. Martin Riese, Ray’s general manager and the resident water sommelier: “Many people don’t know that water is just as important to the entire dining experience.”
This water sommelier business is an exercise in ridiculousness; it makes coconut water look like a good idea. A person who suggests what type of water might go well with your meal? Someone to help you pair H2O with food?
Well, I am no expert, but you know what really pairs well with water?
There is absolutely nothing that doesn’t go with water. Salty, sweet, bitter, sour; any of those tastes – on their own or in combination with each other – will go well with any water presented. If you grilled my shoe and threw it on a plate I am pretty sure you could enjoy it with a tall glass of agua.
Yes, I am sure there are taste differences between bottled water. But how big of a difference? For the sake of argument, lets just say that those taste differences are slight. SLIGHT. Like Fiona Apple slight. Like so slight that paying that much to pair a specific bottled water with a specific meal might be considered…um…stupid?
And is a water sommolier going to chastise me for an incorrect pairing of water to food? If I order osso buco and choose a Poland Spring will I get a dramatic sigh and a slight shake of the head? I hope not because, honestly, there is no incorrect pairing with food and water. The flavor of the water will not inhibit, interfere or ruin any part of my dish. How do I know this? Hmmm…
CAUSE WATER HAS NO FLAVOR, THAT’S WHY!
Now, will the water enhance the experience of my meal? Will it make me appreciate my meal more? That’s a great question. Here’s my great answer:
NO, BECAUSE IT’S WATER!
The only way the water enhances my meal is if a) I am choking or b) that water has sex with me. Anything other than those two circumstances is just water quenching my thirst.
Also mentioned in the article is that there is a water tasting menu. For $12 you get to sip little cap fulls of various waters from all over the world. My first question is this: When partaking in a water tasting menu, what do you consume after each tasting to cleanse your palate? Might it be…MORE WATER?!
My second question is this: After this tasting menu experience, what are you going to do with this information? Go out and buy twenty different bottles of water just so you can pair up each and every one of your meals? Are you going to now build a water cellar in your home to show off to your friends? You know, there are people who are actually have cellars filled with water. They are called survivalists.
Look, I love water. I love tap, bottled, fizzy, flat, and, most importantly, cucumbered. Water is truly the best beverage to have with any and all meals. And though I can buy that there are differences between certain waters, I cannot buy that those differences mean jack squat when it comes to dining (and I certainly can’t buy it a $16 a pop). But I guess if using a water sommelier makes you feel better about yourself, if it makes you feel smarter, then Godspeed.
By the way, drinking Smart Water does not make you smart. Any water sommelier worth his or her salt will tell you that.