When individuals or organizations achieve "greatness" in any area, others like to know about it. Whether their accomplishment is demonstrated by winning a championship or receiving an award, it helps people know how to rank them. Drinking water is no different. We all have our favorites, whether we choose based on taste or some other factor. But how do the professionals determine greatness in the area of water quality?
When it comes to award-winning water, this determination is often made by journalists and food critics who judge it using a standard set of criteria. For example, at the Berkley Springs International Water Tasting competition, the scoring is based on odor, taste, mouthfeel, and aftertaste. Held each year, the prestigious event bestows honors on the world's best water.
In 2019, 112 entries from five continents were judged in categories such as Best Bottled Water and Best Municipal Water. Here are details on how the criteria were assessed:
Great drinking water should be free of any odor. For example, have you ever detected a rotten egg smell in water? This common odor results from hydrogen sulfide dissolved in the water. While the minerals that make up this naturally occurring compound are harmless in small amounts, most would agree that this smell isn't very appetizing. Other factors influencing the smell of water include chlorine, bacteria growth and plumbing issues.
We all know what tastes good to us, even if it's hard to put the flavor into words. In water tasting competitions, a winner is typically described as having a pleasant taste or even as being tasteless. In other words, the water should be devoid of any "off taste" like sulfur or chlorine that detracts from its pure, refreshing nature. Chemical components, mineral content and pH levels all significantly impact the taste of water.
Mouthfeel is exactly what it sounds like. How does the water feel in your mouth? What is the physical sensation? Does the water deliver a sense of refreshment? What's the initial perception when the water hits your palate?
Different than the category of taste, if only in timing, aftertaste refers to the experience after you've swallowed the water. Have you ever eaten something that you thought tasted great in the moment, only to realize it left a bad taste in your mouth after the fact? This same thing can happen with water. It's not uncommon for water to have a distinct metallic or chlorine aftertaste, and that hurts its score.
The Water Tasting Experience
At a water tasting event, you might be reminded of what you would see at a typical wine tasting: People inhaling deeply from a glass and then taking and savoring a small sip to focus on its characteristics. While the average person may not pick up on all the nuances that separate good water from great, we can all still appreciate greatness when we taste it.
Water is a fundamental component of our health and well-being and should be consumed in ample quantities throughout the day. Consequently, assessing quality and recognizing the best water is a process that shouldn't be trivialized!
Want to see an example of award-winning water for yourself? Click below!